When I experienced my first falling out with an elementary school friend group, I was sad and confused because I thought that friendships were meant to last forever. While I don’t remember the reason behind the fight, I will never forget what my older sister had to say about it,
“Don’t worry about it, the people you’re friends with now, won’t be your friends forever. You’re all going to change and eventually grow apart.”
At the time, I remember thinking how silly she sounded. Maybe she grew apart from her friends, but that will never happen to me.
I was wrong of course because friendships aren’t one-sided and people have a tendency to lose interest in things, including relationships that were once important to them.
There are plenty of reasons why friendships fail. It’s nearly impossible to maintain any relationship when the other person won’t meet you halfway; it could be that the interests you once shared have changed, one of you moves away, or maybe new friends or a boyfriend have entered the picture.
It’s easy to have hurt feelings when you get the sense that someone doesn’t have time for you or just doesn’t care anymore. I learned early on that it’s best to just accept people’s actions for what they are and try not to take them personally. Because honestly, what’s the point if you feel like you have to persuade someone to choose you by telling them they’ve been a “bad friend”?
I’ve had plenty of friendships drift over the years so I’m no expert, but I’ve also managed to maintain some really important ones, some which were established back in preschool and elementary school.
There was a point when my friendships were all I really had so I could devote all of my time and energy towards them. As I move forward in my life, I realize I’m not quite as available as I used to be, and I struggled with the guilt of that for a long time. Much of it was pressed upon me by the friends who were feeling left behind, the rest was my natural response to disappointing people I care about.
In a perfect world, we could put ourselves first and continue to satisfy everyone.
I’ve been called a people-pleaser before, and I know it wasn’t meant as a compliment. Trying to make everyone happy isn’t necessarily a good thing, and it’s an easy way to lose touch with what it is you really want. I’ve had my experience conforming to the group I was a part of, just wanting to be liked, but I realized it didn’t make me a happier person when I felt like I couldn’t be myself.
Friends are important, but your personal happiness is important too, and sometimes you have to be selfish to live your best life. I know I’ve had my selfish moments, but frankly, I don’t really care anymore. I haven’t acted maliciously to get to where I am, so why should I feel guilty?
I’ll admit, I’ve stopped going out as much as I used to and I know that’s made a difference in my social life. However, bar-hopping isn’t something that makes me happy anymore and that’s why I don’t do it. On the same note, I haven’t made myself any less available to the people I used to go out with. I’m still present, I’ve just changed the way I socialize, and that’s been for my own peace of mind.
With that said, your true friends are the ones who accept these choices and respect them rather than question you and give you a hard time.
*Confession: I used to try and guilt trip my friends who didn’t want to go out and drink with me. I could not for the life of me understand that they didn’t really enjoy going out and getting fucked up. Now that I’m on the other side, I am sorry for ever trying to push them.
When I think about the kind of friend I want to be now, there’s a phrase that immediately comes to mind,
“Be the friend you’d like to have.”
It’s about putting yourself in another person’s shoes and acting accordingly, which isn’t always easy but often rewarding.
Such a simple concept, but often overlooked when people are more naturally drawn to the idea of being a good friend, which to me, has no real meaning. The interpretation changes depending on who you talk to and what that person’s needs are, which is why not everyone in this world can hold hands and get along.
As I said, I’m no expert on the subject, but I am someone who has a hard time letting go of people that I feel have impacted my life in some way. It wasn’t easy for me to come to terms with the fact that not all friendships are meant to last forever.
At the end of the day, the people you surround yourself with should be building you up and encouraging you. I know I’ve wasted time and effort on people who will never care for me the way I’ve cared for them, and while I don’t regret it, I’m finally learning when to let things go. The people you surround yourself with shouldn’t be limiting your ability to grow as an individual and they certainly shouldn’t hold you back from exploring what life has to offer.
Sometimes it’s best to be honest with yourself and admit when it’s time to trim the fat.