Letting go of certain friendships is sometimes for the best

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Graphic by Jaime Mere

 

Losing someone you love and care about is always difficult. We create ties and bonds with people, expressing our joys and heartaches. We rely on these people in difficult times and they rely on us. But a harmonious friendship of both honest razzing and genuine care is the ideal, that’s not always the reality.

Sometimes these friendships we’ve built aren’t what is best for us and it’s important to recognize when this is the case. Some friendships are only meant to last so long. Consider these learning experiences. Sure, that old friend from high school binge drinking Old Vienna’s in the driver’s seat of his Pontiac Sunfire is fun to screw around with on weekends but do you really want him at your wedding? You can love these people for what they were to you, what you did for each other, but don’t mistake that for long-term chemistry. Some of the greatest relationships of my life only ever lasted a few months. It doesn’t always matter how it ends. What’s really important is how this relationship bettered you, what you took from it. Yes, it might hurt initially, it’s never easy losing a friend, but remember what you learnt and let it influence your future.

A bad friendship can be dangerous for your physical health. Late into my second year of university an old friend moved into the vacant room of my apartment. We hadn’t talked in years and I was oblivious to what I was getting myself into. I began picking up his unhealthy habits. He unemployed and not attending school, me having just finished exams, we began drinking almost daily, sleeping less and eating foods with no nutritional value. I took up my retired, disgusting habit of smoking and I began to notice the quick deterioration of my mental and physical health. This is just an example of how surrounding yourself with the wrong people can seriously harm your body as well as your mind. Although my friend at the time was no direct harm to me, indirectly his habits began drastically changing how I operated on a daily basis.

They can also take a major toll on your mental health. A toxic relationship has the ability to warp your perception of social customs, what is right and natural. I acknowledge it isn’t always easy to drop friends you begin to recognize as “toxic”. At times these people have been in your life for years and you never understand that this is abnormal until exposed to new social circles. I never noticed this until I started university. It was not only okay but was encouraged for you to be yourself, to never suppress your personality regardless of how odd and different it may be. This was a revolutionary discovery as I slowly met more and more people who didn’t just like me for my geographical convenience but for my whit and character. People that didn’t discourage me from voicing my opinions and preferences. Old friendships, only having flourished so long due to the location of our parent’s houses, began to take a lot of effort to maintain.

Your opinions and interests are not unjust or inadequate if they don’t match your friend’s. This may seem obvious but to some it’s something they’ve never been told. It took me far too long to realize this and I was never truly myself until I accepted it. I found myself conforming and suppressing my personality out of fear of judgment and criticism. It hinders on your confidence in a major way when you feel you’re a lesser person for your character.

It’s becoming increasingly frustrating watching people feel the need to conform to the masses, conform to their peers. Transformed into people they know they aren’t simply to please the people that don’t care. Individuality is such a unique thing and seems to be becoming a rarity nowadays. Homogenizing your ideas limits your ability to create, withholding your ability to display your talents.

But I’m a hypocrite. There are times I conform to my friend’s opinions in an attempt to avoid judgment. Sure, I’ll admit that I think Tom Brady is the best quarterback of all time when I know Joe Montana is the G.O.A.T. I’ll jam along to Island in the Sun even when at heart I think Weezer is no better than a couple of deaf possums playing around with a bottle of prescription medication. 

It’s healthy to have different friend groups. It’s okay to distance yourself from people that hold you back from your best. You don’t necessarily need to exile these people from your life, but if you’re at a point where you know they’re unhealthy for you feel no guilt in stepping away. 

Sometimes you need to remove certain people from your life. It might not be easy breaking off a friendship, especially if you’ve been friends for years, but if they are suppressing your genius or degrading your accomplishments it might be time for them to go.

Don’t be wary of cutting off an unhealthy relationship. A person’s influence on you is just as important as your influence on them. Know your worth and capitalize on it. Just as you would do with a stack of assignments or a dirty kitchen, don’t hesitate to rid yourself of your stressors, even if some of them are your oldest friends.


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