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There has been a recent trend of people distancing themselves from close relationships due to election-year conflict, morality differences, and/or plain old disrespectful actions. While it is socially controversial, it is personally refreshing to see this form of self-care finally come to fruition. After observing such a long period of “tolerance” for people who bring negative energy and discomfort to others’ lives, I believe this was a much-needed era of empowerment for our society. However, those disrespectful individuals who are being held accountable for their actions are revolting against the notion that they can no longer spew ignorance and hatred without consequences. They are crying out about “differences of opinion” and how they are entitled to their beliefs. News flash: so is everyone else!

We are not trying to silence anyone’s voices by choosing to move on from an unhealthy friendship or relationship, no matter how often that label is pinned onto us. We are merely trying to make our mental health better. It is necessary to distance yourself from outdated, bigoted, ill-informed, harmful “opinions” to feel a sense of peace within yourself. I hope that one day certain discriminatory values will be eradicated and widely regarded as what they are — unacceptable. Some people have a lot more to learn, so it is important to focus on teaching and being patient with those who are simply just misinformed and open to listening, but it is also not your responsibility to stick around waiting for their stubbornness to dissolve.

No matter how much backlash you might face from the people you distance yourself from, I hope that you never doubt your decisions. If someone cared about you and your values, they would be open to civil discussion about how their beliefs and/or actions negatively impact you. Their hostility from being challenged and uncomfortable is not a reflection of you as a person. I promise you will feel a sense of relief once you take the leap to leave them in your past. You deserve better than being constantly ignored or belittled at for wanting to spread values of equality, acceptance, and kindness.

Your choice to move away from disrespectful and toxic people does not mean you cannot listen to differing opinions, and it certainly does not measure how kind or genuine of a person you are. Stand up for what you believe in and always put yourself first. Do not be afraid of decisions that will benefit you. Your inner peace and well-being is worth much more than associating with a person whose presence will only drag you down.

Kayla is a sophomore Social Media Theory and Strategy student at Kutztown University. Her interests range from youth activism to the latest beauty trends, so she is always glad to see these topics brought into the online networking world.