Addressing Friendships That Aren't Serving You
I saw a quote a long time ago and it really stuck with me. It said, “If you are the smartest person in a room, then you are in the wrong room.” Frankly, at first, the quote didn’t really register with me because I’ve never really cared about how smart someone was. But then I changed it up. I kept the same foundation, but replaced the ‘smart’ aspect.
If you are the most caring person in a room, then you are in the wrong room.
If you are the most motivated person in a room, then you are in the wrong room.
If you are the most understanding person in a room, then you are in the wrong room.
If you are the most giving person in a room, then you are in the wrong room.
The list goes on, but you replace it with the characteristics that you value.
When I first thought about this concept, I thought it was conceited and self centered. Who am I to say that I’m better than other people? What kind of person does it make me to leave people behind to search for better things? I kept this mindset for a while, but the quote had always stuck with me.
Eventually, I realized brutally honest truths that I’m going to share with you soon.
I spent a lot of alone time during quarantine - the most alone time that I’ve ever spent in my life. But the more alone time I spent, the more ‘at peace’ I felt. I couldn’t understand why because I’ve always been extremely social. I’d never gone days without seeing someone. I was actually almost concerned at how content I was with being alone, just because it was so out of character for me.
I started doing some deep reflection at the end of June. It was a very hard month for me, especially in terms of friendships. I had been disappointed by so many people that I cared about. I think it hurt so badly because I would have never allowed them to feel the way that I did, but they did it without even caring or noticing. To be honest, I’ve felt disappointed with most of my friendships for a long time, but I’ve never had the guts to say anything to fix it.
I realized that I felt so at peace because I wasn’t surrounded by people that required so much from me, without giving anything in return. I wasn’t around people who made me feel poorly about myself or my choices. I wasn’t surrounded by fake friends who I had to pretend to like. I had no idea how much stress that some of my friendships cost me until I was forced to take a step back.
You’re probably like, “Boo hoo Carmen. Your life sucks.. Move on.” But there is a point to all of this complaining. Even though I was disappointed, I learned and gained so much more. That’s what I’m really here to talk about. I’m sure that someone else, even if they haven’t completely realized it until now, needs to hear what I’m about to share - so here we go.
Stop putting other people first. You are the most important person in your life. It’s okay to be a little bit selfish! I always think of the saying, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” Meaning that you can’t help others when you don’t have anything to give. Stop making other people’s needs more important than your own.
If friends aren’t going out of their way for you, don’t go out of your way for them. Not only was I putting other people first, but I kept putting them first when they didn’t do the same for me. It’s a long, exhausting, and frustrating road to go down. You don’t have to say, “You didn’t do ___ for me, so I’m not doing __ for you.” You can silently just stop putting in the effort until they are able to give back to you.
You are not selfish for changing or evolving out of friendships that don’t serve you. Like I said, you have to put yourself first. If you feel like a relationship gives you more negativity than it does positivity - cut it off. I’ve held on to unhealthy friendships for years and I can confidently tell you that 99% of the time, it doesn’t get better.
You do not owe anyone anything. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been friends, if they’ve been a good friend to you in the past, what you’ve been through together, etc. If they are becoming toxic to you, cut it off. You do not owe anything to people for being a good person/friend at a point in time.
It’s okay to stand up for yourself and your wants. Everyone has the right to do this for themselves. Like we said earlier, their needs are not more important than yours.
It’s okay to upset other people. Let me repeat: It’s okay to upset other people!!! This took me forever to realize, but it was the most liberating thing. Before I came to the realization, I thought of upsetting other people as equivalent to the world ending. I swear, it never even occurred to me that upsetting someone else was an option. Looking back, I have no clue how that never dawned on me, but I’m so glad it did.
Here’s what I never thought about: It should not be up to you to make sure that every other person in your life is happy - especially not at the cost of your own happiness. It’s also okay to disagree with people, have different thoughts or beliefs, etc.
But if you’re like me, you’re probably wondering how you can upset people and it still be “okay”. My advice: It’s all about how you handle the situation.
Here’s my typical outline for upsetting someone:
1: Break the news as lovingly and calmly as you can.
2: Let them know that you understand if they are upset, and then explain that you have to put your wants/needs first in this situation - and you apologize for the inconvenience it may put on them.
3. If you want to make it up to them in the future, let them know. Give them an idea of how you can make it up to them.
4. Give them the time and space that they need to come to terms with the situation. Don’t confuse this with waiting for forgiveness, because you don’t need that for doing what’s best for you. You just need to let them cool off and process the way that they need to in order to do what’s best for them.
Alright, I think that’s all I’m going to share in this post. I have a few ideas surrounding the topic of friendship and I don’t want to make this too long, so I’ll save it for the next post! Remember, your goal in life is not to please other people. Your goal in life is to make YOU happy and do what’s best for you - and you don’t have to feel guilty or selfish for doing those things. Have a great weekend! xoxo