At some point, probably in my late 20s, I took inventory on the people in my life and realized that for the most part, I was pulling all the weight in my friendships. There was no meeting halfway — these people were not going out of their way to text or to visit — because, for some reason, the expectation was always on me.
So I started some kind of pseudo social experiment where I just stopped trying. I wasn’t going to initiate the conversations and I wasn’t going to be the one who always went out of my way for everyone else anymore. I wanted to find out if they’d miss me if I wasn’t the one to reach out, or if I couldn’t make it to a social gathering. If I quietly removed myself from the equation, would they make sure I was added back in?
And I’ll be damned if my theory didn’t prove itself, almost immediately. It wasn’t a clean break, of course, it hurt and it sucked and I spent a lot of time being lonely in the ensuing years. But I had finally realized that if I didn’t force myself into situations, I wasn’t invited into them and I finally knew and accepted that I didn’t want to be in places where I wasn’t wanted.
I’m 32 years old and I’ve had very few long-lasting friendships in my life. Maybe that’s on me, but maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s proactive and an act of self-preservation. Fake friendships, built on giving and never receiving, aren’t healthy. They aren’t worth it, especially for someone who leans toward introverted and doesn’t crave social interaction just for the sake of social interaction.
I’ve gone through several periods in my life where depression and social anxiety got the better of me. They last a little while and eventually there’s some kind of shift in my life that draws me out of it and life moves on until the next cycle comes around. Friendships suffer doing those times, but more importantly those times are when it becomes abundantly clear who belongs in your life and who doesn’t.
Sometimes you have to Marie Kondo your social relationships. Does this person bring you joy? If not — move the hell on. You don’t have to carry those burdensome friendships around. You deserve better than that. You deserve people who love and appreciate you.
And maybe while you’re at it, think about yourself. Are you being that person to someone else? Are you creating an undue burden on someone? Make sure that you’re not taking more than you’re giving in your relationships.
It’s funny, kind of, what prompted this stream of thought. Yesterday was #BellLetsTalk day on Twitter, which has great intentions although I firmly believe mental health awareness should happen every day, not just once a year. But it takes me back to a time in my life where I wasn’t doing so well emotionally, and there was a deafening silence from people who claimed to be my friends. People who, when this ~special~ day comes around on twitter, would share the message of supporting while being completely absent in the lives of people around them. You deserve better.