“Know you can count on me.” — Panda Bear
A while back, my girlfriend told me a story that both piqued my interest and angered me. She had brought this guy home with her and was lounging in bed when she heard a crash coming from the bathroom, where presumably the dude was relieving himself. He walked back into her bedroom. “What was that?” she asked him.
“Oh, nothing,” he replied, and she didn’t press him further. The next day, she found shards of a shattered full-length mirror scattered on her bathroom floor.
Our generation has a tendency to behave as if our actions won’t cause reactions or affect those around us. Why do we fail to explicitly cancel plans and leave our friends wondering if we died, or if we’re just an asshole? Why do we feel it’s OK to say things we don’t really mean to garner the response we desire in the moment?
If we’re not holding ourselves or those around us accountable to any set of standards, any behavior is accepted, no matter how harmful, and there is no impetus for self-improvement.
When we don’t take action or make decisions for ourselves, we leave control of our lives up to fate (or those friends who end up acting like parents.) It’s almost like intentionally trying to become a non-entity, to cease existing beyond basic functions. We float through life as if we’re made of tumbleweed, blowing from one light and airy conversation to the next.
Neuroscientists have found that the area of the brain responsible for self-control is completely separate from the part that encourages us to take action. I’ve never written for The Journal of Neuroscience, but this seems proof that for some of us, it’s harder to rein in our impulsive ideas and follow through with actions we’ve previously committed to.
And, I’m guilty. I tell white lies of non-existent commitments when I don’t feel like talking to my friends about their problems. I cancel on plans when a better invitation comes along, even on the day of. One night last summer, I left friends I’ve known for years at a party they were attending in my honor so I could go home with a guy I’d seen a handful of times.
Is it our youth, our good looks, our charm and charisma that makes us feel like we can skate by, treating those around us poorly? It could stem from a complete disregard for the future. We’re living inside each moment, blissfully unaware of Newton’s third rule: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The things we say and do can and will be held against us.
Maybe we can blame the stress that comes from trying to balance the pressure to be cool and a member of the in-crowd while simultaneously attempting to channel our authentic selves. Oftentimes, we imitate what we see, so the basest of behavior models becomes king. If no one else is showing up, why do I have to? If he’s not being honest with me, why should I tell him how I really feel?
It’s during the toughest of times that you discover who your accountabilibuddies are — those rare and special birds whom you can count on to say what they mean. The friends who stand by you because they recognize the value of mutual accountability. If you happen to find yourself in one of these mutually beneficial accountabilibuddy situations (and it ain’t gotta be a romantic situation), here’s what you have to look forward to.
If trouble arises, you know you can count on your accountabilibuddy for support. You can tell your accountabilibuddy things that are painful, things you’d like to keep confidential, things that scare or upset you. And you rest easy knowing it’s all in the vault. You can make plans for weeks, hell, months ahead of time and know that barring death or disaster, your accountabilibuddy will meet you at said appointed time and place.
Buds with benefits have even more responsibility to hold each other accountable. When you cross a certain threshold, you have an obligation to not only be open, but forthcoming, with your history, insecurities, turn-ons and offs. This contract isn’t limited to relationships of the physical variety, though. Friendship of any sort involves a sort of social contract, and both parties have equal responsibility to honor that dotted line.
Of course, if you happen to find yourself surrounded by friends of the unreliable, irresponsible variety, or you’re tired with booty calling — and who doesn’t feel that way in their twenties in Gainesville? — the accountabilibuddy system is self-supporting with a just a little will. Write a to-do list at the beginning of the week, if you don’t finish the majority of the items, don’t allow yourself to go to Motown Showdown night at The Atlantic. If you do finish what you’ve outlined for yourself, go and reward yourself with an extra shot of whiskey. Twist and shout!
Last year, I was duped into buying a lemon of a Honda. I personified my Honda as Emmanuelle, a frail, constantly sick, little French girl from the nineteenth century. She would break down on a weekly basis, the dashboard flashing like stage lighting at an EDM concert. I would get her towed to the shop just fine. Then came the task of finding a ride to and from work each day until she was fixed. Some friends would ignore my calls, others would feign unavailability. But my friend Sam would, without fail, pick me up whenever I needed it.
Every time she rounded that corner, feelings of gratitude, trust and safety swirled within me. The comfort of knowing we can hold each other to the highest standards and come out the other end unscathed, together, makes living through my twenties a little easier. Sam and I know that come hell or high water, we can count on each other. If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.
Tyler Francischine is a writer, event planner and audiophile who would rather be floating on her back in the Atlantic.