As I get older, the one thing that has undoubtedly changed the most are the people I choose to surround myself with. Growing up, I just wanted to have as many friends as possible because I thought that meant I was “cool” or that I was a worthwhile human being. Because I had a disability though and was very shy and shut down, I didn’t always have a lot of friends. So in typical Jackie-style, I would beat myself up and envy those who were seemingly “popular” at school and wonder why I wasn’t.
Over the past three years or so, as I’ve really started to come into my own and care less about what other people think, I’ve started to do what I like to call prioritizing with the people in my life, a kind of friend filter. I guess that sounds a little harsh but in a nutshell, I’ve just realized who my true friends are and who deserves my time and effort.
There’s those people you might really like talking to or spending time with but maybe they don’t put in the equal effort. Maybe they flake a lot and don’t follow through with plans. Maybe you’re the one who always has to initiate those plans to begin with. Then there’s those people that I’m sad to say, can just drain the life out of you. They, like all of us, are dealing with their own issues and it doesn’t matter what you do or say, they will never be happy. There’s those people who just care more about themselves than anyone else whether it be because of selfishness or just preoccupation with themselves so you feel like you’re in a friendship with a brick wall sometimes (that only talks about itself). Then there can be those who are just flat out mean.
At the ripe old age of…well, the age I am 🙂 …I’ve experienced every single one of these. It hasn’t always been easy to remove these people from my life; to stop making the effort or to stop allowing myself to try be their therapist. I’ve drained the life out of myself over and over trying to be everything to everyone. You can give and give until there’s literally nothing left of yourself. It’s so easy to get caught up in the idea of quantity. Our society teaches us at a young age that being popular is super important and the only way to be popular is to have a lot of friends. That is in no way a judgment of people who do have a lot of friends, as long as it’s fulfilling for that person, but for myself personally, little by little, I’ve let go of those who just weren’t making a friendship a 2-way street. I’ve shifted my focus to quality instead and that’s made me feel very happy and very fulfilled.
I think it’s a beautiful thing that different people can serve different purposes in our lives. Not everyone has to be a best friend. It’s good to have a friend that’s fun to go out with. Someone to go on random adventures with. Someone you can call 24/7 and they will lend a compassionate ear and you would do the same for them. Someone you can just grab dinner with. People you talk to every single day and some people you only talk to once a week or a couple times a month. Other people come into your life for a while and then they disappear for whatever reason.
No matter what shape or form the friendship comes from though, I only want to be spending my time, sharing my vulnerability with, and giving to those who are willing to give that back too. I always thought in order to be nice then you had to give yourself to every single person but in actuality, you can still be a nice person while also knowing you deserve quality friendships and quality people in your life. Valuing yourself enough to do that doesn’t mean you’re not a nice person.
Life is too short to waste time and energy on those who don’t want or aren’t in a place to give that back. It’s a lesson that’s been a difficult one for me, but one I’ve been very thankful to learn!