The last couple of weeks has been some of the best times I’ve had this year. Jon and I got the pleasure of seeing some of our close friends and enjoying a few backpacking trips with them. We went primitive camping in Kentucky’s Red River Gorge and went backpacking in Tennessee’s South Cumberland State Park for Memorial Day weekend. Trips like these, where I have the opportunity to reconnect with really good friends, are always refreshing.
Since Jon and I moved to Tennessee 3 years ago, building friendships and finding people we truly connect with has been difficult for us. We just haven’t clicked with a lot of people, aside from a few casual acquaintances, and honestly, finding people who are real is a challenge! In light of that hardship, staying in touch with good people and good friends that I’ve met in life has been very important to me. I have them to thank when it comes to finding the motivation to keep going. They’re always a voice of reason when I hesitate to make life changing moves. I really do have a lot to thank them for. <3
The road to gaining such a great support system has not been easy. As I’m sure you’ve encountered, there are times when we meet people in hopes of becoming good friends and they end up disappointing us. Unfortunate to say, events like this happen far too often! It puts you in a state of mind that makes it difficult to let people in; almost like isolating yourself from meeting new people out of fear of disappointment, or because of the unwillingness to trust others. It can also lead you to start resenting people altogether and completely lose interest in making new friends.
Another aspect of friendship that’s often overlooked is the act of keeping people in your life that are overtly a burden on you; the ones we hold onto who always seem to bring us down, no matter what the occasion. It could be that person you’ve known for years that you stay friends with because of how long you’ve known each other, trying to sustain a dying relationship and afraid to let go. But why is it that we keep people like this in our lives? I know it’s harsh to say, but it’s almost like holding onto dead weight everywhere you go, carrying on with something that serves you no purpose.
When you’re a kid, you don’t necessarily worry too much about the people you call friends or the impact they’ll have on your life. But as we get older, the company we keep becomes a reflection of us. In order to build a well-rounded support system, you start by aligning yourself with people whose core values align with yours, surrounding yourself with people who only want to see you thrive and people you completely trust. By investing your time into creating your support system, you’re always with people who truly matter to you and are a positive impact in your life.
When I decided to live my life in a minimalistic manner, learning to let people go was one of the biggest hurdles. I came to realize that holding on to possibilities of long lasting friendships with people who only communicated with me when I stretched the olive branch was not serving me any purpose. It forced me to deal with some inner demons which ultimately meant having to part ways with some “friends.”
Friends are like family, and we all know how difficult family can be. The difference is you can choose your friends. You can choose whether to keep that person you can’t rely on around. You can choose to call the person that’s always talking negatively behind your back your “best friend”. You can choose to stay friends with someone who’s betrayed your trust repeatedly.
Just be advised that in choosing to do so, you’re doing yourself a serious injustice. When we meet people we connect with, our intent is to keep them around long term and build a solid friendship from it. But sometimes, you have to ask yourself whether these relationships are beneficial or toxic to your growth. It’s a harsh reality but you should be selective of the people you surround yourself with. Not everyone you know can be called a friend and not everyone in your life wants to see you succeed. In the beginning, it’s impossible to know where every friendship will lead but it’s important to be able to recognize when you must cut the cord.
If you’re struggling to part ways with some toxic people in your life, here’s my advice:
Ask yourself these questions: “How does this person make me feel when I’m with them? Are they supportive, encouraging, and open with me? Are they drama filled or self-destructive? Does this person put me in situations that I don’t want to be in? Is this relationship uplifting or defeating? Will their absence be missed? What will be gained or lost by keeping them around?” Note: pros and cons lists are great for this!
Once you understand how you feel, decide whether this is a feeling that you want to continue to have. Be confident in your decision, then go ahead and act on it. I know it can be very hard to let people go and again this is one of those things that are easier said than done. But truly the people we surround ourselves with play a huge part in our quality of life. You have to choose whether you want to continue to be a part of that person’s life and vice versa. Carefully assess the relationship you’re on the fence about. Chances are you’re on the fence for very good reasons.
Lastly, try to make smart choices about the people you let in your life. When you spend countless amounts of time with someone, some of their traits start rubbing off on you without realizing it. You should want to be amongst people who push you to do better, make you go for your goals, and calls you out when you’re making the wrong moves by giving you sound advice. You should want to be around people who make you feel good about yourself and worry about your wellbeing. Since friends are an extension of family and, for some, your only form of a family, these people matter more than you think. Form a support system that contributes to your better tomorrow. The company that we keep is where it starts.