This year I turned forty one. When I look back on my life so far, I can acknowledge and accept that I have grown and changed significantly as a person over the years. I would hope others would say I have become more grounded, open-hearted and wiser, but I am also aware that I have become less tolerant of nurturing friendships that no longer serve me well.
I think in my twenties I was keen to be liked, I wanted to be popular, have lots of friends around me and be accepted. In my thirties I began to get to know myself on a deeper level, I began to realise what was truly important to me, and felt more comfortable in being open and honest about who I really was to others. When I hit forty, I began to look back at my life and all of the friendships I have had, the ones which have nurtured my soul and helped me grow in different ways. Fondly remembering the friends that have truly accepted me for who I am as a human being and have loved me unconditionally, through the good times and the difficult ones. And then there are the friendships that have been challenging, the ones that have made me question decisions I have made for myself, who I was, and sometimes those kind of friendships have even been incredibly stressful.
What this life experience has taught me, is that I no longer feel the need to try to be someone I am not, in an attempt to conform to how someone else feels I should be, or how they want me to be. It’s taken me years to really understand who I am, and to have a acceptance of all my positive and negative aspects of what makes me uniquely me.
Accept that friendships will come and go, and this isn’t a negative thing – Friendships serve us, in what ever way they are meant to, for however long we are meant to be experiencing them. It is my belief that every person we come into contact with can actually teach us something. They may be teaching us something about ourselves, them, or even situation we maybe experiencing. When we are open to that lesson, and we acknowledge it, it makes it easier to understand why maybe sometimes the dynamics of a friendship change, or maybe why it didn’t last as long as we expected it to, or why it didn’t evolve how we envisaged. When you look at the relationship from this higher perspective, it shows us how every friendship, no matter how it worked out, can enable us to grow on some level.
Do not feel guilty about distancing yourself from something that no longer serves you well – During my twenties and early thirties, I had a wonderful friend who I spent a lot of time with. She was funny, kind and fun to be around. As we both got older our paths led us in different directions, I was career minded and she longed to nurture a family. Over time, the dynamics of our friendship changed. I had my own business, and was working every hour God sent. The global recession had hit, and I was desperately trying to make ends meet. Like many other small businesses at that time, it was simply a matter of survival. I had the responsibility of staff, as well as bills at work, and bills at home to pay. At the same time she had her first child, and was spending her time enjoying being a first time mum at home, caring for and raising her family.
One day, myself and this friend met her for lunch, and suddenly out of the blue, she announced she no longer felt the same about meeting up with me or our friendship. Our life path indeed had been very different to the one we walked in our twenties, and yes, we had gone off and done completely different things, but to me, we were still the same people underneath all the drama of life. At the time, I remember I was incredibly hurt but her comment, it came out of nowhere and looking back, it was at a time I really needed support and encouragement from my friends. Feeling totally confused and off guard, I immediately launched into a list of reasons why I was working so hard, almost as if I was trying to justify the personal life choices I had made. It was incredibly soul-destroying, and I left the restaurant close to tears.
Looking back, what this experience taught me, was my friend was judging me, for whatever reason, for the life choices I had made. My vision of what I wanted in life, was in fact very different to what she wanted, and for whatever reason, she therefore felt our friendship must be different too. The truth was, our friendship wasn’t different at’ll, but her expectations of what our friendship should be, in her mind, had in fact changed.
In any friendship, the moment you are unable to completely be yourself, in your own truest essence, unconditionally, in someone else’s company, than in truth that friendship may not serve you well. You should never be made to feel unworthy, different, unkind, or even selfish, simply on the grounds of the fact you have made different life choices to your friends. Your most valuable friends should love you, nurture you, respect you and be happy for you, even if your day-to-day life is very different from theirs.
Accept that you may not always be in someone’s life either, even if you want to be – Friendships have to be a two-way agreement. And sometimes we change too. Don’t take things personally, or over analyse the situation, if you find someone isn’t in contact with you as much as they once were. Remember, we are in an age where people’s lives are super busy. Family, work, hobbies and well life, can just take over. Our priorities may shift during certain stages in our lives, and often we find those who once inspired us, or motivated us, or simply made us feel good about ourselves, no longer serve that purpose.
Do not harbour prolonged feelings of anger, disappointment or sadness when friendships move on – Friendships come on many levels. We have friends who we may simply meet for lunch or down the pub for a chat, and then we have the friends that we have bared our souls to. The ones who know everything about us, all our victories and all our failures. So it’s not surprising that we sometimes feel the similar kind of emotions we may experience when we break up with a partner. Feelings of hurt, confusion, anger, bitterness, sadness, loneliness can often consume us, and this is fine. We need to truly experience whatever emotion comes up. Just remember not to get bogged down in these thoughts. Remind yourself it isn’t beneficial to cling to something that is no longer what it used to be, acknowledge that the relationship has moved on, for whatever reason, and it’s actually o.k that you and your friend, are no longer spending so much time together. Your expectations of one another may have changed, and ultimately, we all make choices based around our own desire to experience happiness. I always try to look at friendships from a higher perspective, and try to remain focused on all that was good, and everything productive that relationship taught me.
Always be grateful for the friendship, no matter how it worked out – Our life is made up from millions of experiences, day in, day out. The people we meet and bond with, help to create an important part of those experiences. Never regret a friendship that maybe didn’t evolve in a way you had hoped, even if it caused you pain or sadness. I believe, we can either look at our past friendships in a way that can hinder us or help us. Always remember, the pair of you did have a connection on some level, otherwise you wouldn’t have considered that person as your friend. Always try to remain grateful for the good experiences you shared, as this places your thoughts and personal energy in a more positive vibration, which will help aid the healing process and enable you both to move on.