“Respect yourself enough to walk away from anyone or anything that
no longer serves you, grows you, or makes you happy.”
When we’re young we believe that our self-worth can be measured in how many friends we have, how many parties we’re invited to and how people see us. As we get older we realise that having a few good friends can be worth much more than masses of acquaintances and so we begin to really value those few friends we’ve kept. This may not always be a good thing.
We get so attached to those friendships, particularly the peers we’ve kept through childhood, we can sometimes become blind to the reality of our relationships.
I know I’ve kept several people in my life, more because I’d known them for so long rather than because the friendship was something that was still making me happy. For people who enjoy the nostalgia and may not necessarily be too pleased with how their life is panning out, the comfort they can get from old friendships can give them a sense of happiness, even if the reality of it is just not the case.
My best friend for most of my life had changed so much over the years, so had I, and though we had shared so many happy memories, ultimately those memories were not enough to continue our friendship. I had to come to accept that we both made each other very unhappy and was holding each other back from being able to move forward with our lives. The difficult obstacles things we’d overcome together, suddenly made us feel forced into a friendship and put us through the pain until we had to admit to each other and ourselves that our friendship no longer existed.
Losing that long term friendship was incredibly difficult for me to come to terms with, but that was only for the side of me that liked to romanticize the idea that our friendship was made to be forever and that we’d someday have our kids playing all summer long like we had done as children rather than think about the more plausible eventuality of us causing each other much more damage than we already had.
I’m the kind of person who values old memories rather than looking forward to making new memories. I’ll admit this is down to the fact that life over 20 has been far more difficult than I had ever imagined it to be. My friendships past 20 have been a lot less satisfying or healthy than they were when I was younger and I have found it harder to trust.
Maybe I find it harder to trust because rather than being a carefree teenager I am a much wiser and more street smart person who understands life a lot more than I did. When you’re young, you can easily trust people, you have a lot less to loose, you have a lot less important secrets, you’re still figuring life out, still figuring yourself out, the people you meet are more likely to be in a similar place to you. When you’re older, the people you meet could have their whole life down, they could know everything they want and need to know whilst you’re still as confused as ever. So it’s natural to want to prolong friendships with people who shared past experiences with you.
Granted those people probably understand you a little more, you can reminisce on those happy and silly moments of childhood together, but how long can you go on doing that?
Real friendships are about growing up together, there’s no use staying with friends who don’t share similar values with you. That’s not me saying that you can only be friends with people who are of the same race or religion as you, I’m saying that the friendships you keep should be ones that encourage you to succeed, to keep going when times are tough. Friendships should grow like with age, you should be able to feel comfortable to share bad and good days together. Friendships shouldn’t include fear, fear of being judged by your peer, fear of not being yourself, fear of not fitting in.
I think that’s the beauty of growing up. When you’re a kid, you can really struggle to fit in, it’s hard to be yourself and feel accepted. But when you’re a grown-up you can make more decisions for yourself, that should include your friendships.
We work too damn hard, struggle through too many obstacles to be in friendships that dampen us and drag us down.
It’s good to end friendships because it can give us space for clarity and growth. We shouldn’t feel guilted in maintaining friendships with people who add no true value to our lives. That statement is so important, I’m not talking material or financial value, I’m talking about substance, friendships should be spent making happy memories, sharing special moments, supporting each other through difficult times and adding that value of comfort and understanding rather than guilt, shame, and painful memories.
Whilst it’s good to have friendships that you’ve been through the wars with but have come out victorious together, it’s also important to know your worth, to know the right way to treat a friend and be treated by them in return. It shouldn’t be one sided, you shouldn’t be making all the effort. You’re a hardworking, loving and supportive friend who deserves to know that if times gets tough, or you finally get that well-earned promotion, you have your friend to be with you.
I’m only 24 and sometimes I talk to an old friend who hasn’t been a particularly good friend and I think, I’m too old to be dealing with this shit. I need a friend who is actually going to be reliable, especially if I’m showing them that kindness.
Having said that, I also embrace those times when I reconnect with an old friend. Over the Christmas holidays I got to go back to my hometown, and whilst I didn’t get to see all of the people I wanted to, I felt like I talked and reminisced with some people I spent a better part of my teenage years going on adventures with and whilst we all drifted apart when we went our separate ways to find ourselves, I feel like we’re now all in a settled place where we can all come back together and share the life lessons we discovered during our years apart, and honestly that made me feel so grown up and I was so happy to feel like even after all these years there is still that love and support we can have for one another.
Because at the heart of it, a real friendship should be effortless, not high maintenance, life is crazy, it can get busy, it can get messy, and there should be that level of understanding that you and your friend may not talk all day, every day but that ultimately you will always have each other.
It’s good to end a friendship because sometimes you need to show yourself a little more love, a friendship shouldn’t be making you sad, angry or afraid, a true and real and valuable friendship is one that makes you feel strong, confident and happy.
Those friends that stuck with you through difficult times, who celebrated with you through your successes, who have proven to you that they value you as much as you value them, are the kind of people you want beside today.
Keep in mind that being a good friend is just as important as finding a good friend.
Do something to make your parents proud today, your kids proud someday but most importantly, you proud every day!
Peace and Love