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Since my life got into “middle age” problem, which was a combination of my health decline and career struggle, I found I was also in relationship crisis – my old friends were all estranged from my life, more or less, one by one.
I often wonder, what made my friendships faded after all these years (25 plus)? I don’t know, but I at least know it happened during my “middle age crisis”. Most of my friends take my struggle as an action driven by my “selfishness” (“you only think of yourself, but not your family, your parents”, as one of my friend pointed out), but in fact it is an action of individualism, which seems to be the same by their understanding. This fundamental difference between my old friends and I seems to be very hard to overcome just by my effort (I tried very hard to explain, but most of my effort were taken as “excuses”).
I have to wonder, what had really kept my friendships for this long (25 plus years is not a short term)? For so many years I thought I had the best friends in the world, I thought they would accept me no matter what. And I do not find myself changed, except my thoughts: individualism, a gradually matured life attitude during my life in America. I guess this is it. It was along this “change”, my old friends saw a “different” me, who had so many useless ideas they were not familiar with. I must say, none of my old friends are fond of “thinking” (I had these type of friends mostly because I grew up and educated in art environment).
As I always understood, Chinese culture is a culture of uniformity, not diversity. I consider I was one of “victim” of such culture. Of course, I should not jump into conclusion that I have already lost these friends, and I am sure in future it is totally possible that we embrace each other again. However, meanwhile, there is no better way to deal with this situation than “looking forward”. Plus, I no longer live in that country, neither should I live in the past anymore.