Let’s face it – adulthood is tough. I struggle with balancing all of the different aspects of my life: my personal life, my courses, organizations that I’m involved with, and other adulting things like paying my bills or keeping food in my fridge. I really thought I would have this adulthood thing figured out by the time I was twenty-three, but boy was I wrong.
One of the hardest lessons that I’ve learned in my adulthood might actually surprise you: I’ve struggled with letting friendships go that don’t serve me anymore. I know this sounds pretty selfish when I put it bluntly like that, but here’s the thing, ladies: it’s okay to be selfish when it comes to protecting your energy.
Making friends as an adult is hard enough, but losing people that you once called a friend can be even harder. I used to really get down on myself when a friendship fizzled out because I would feel like I did something wrong. The reality is that people in their twenties are constantly growing and changing; it’s okay if a friendship slowly fades away because two people decide to take separate directions in life. You should be confident in the direction that you choose because the decisions that we make now will certainly affect our future. It’s important to note that we tend to feel the most fulfilled when we are aware of our priorities and treat them as such; people’s priorities are constantly shifting and changing and that’s okay. It’s part of the process.
It’s also okay if you need to end a friendship that is negatively impacting your life because it is draining or toxic. There is a clear distinction between being there for a friend when they are going through rough times, and when a friendship is one-sided. I’ve been dealing with a lot of one-sided friendships lately.
I consider myself to be a positive and happy person – and I really don’t mind sharing that energy with a friend when they are going through a tough time. The problem occurs when a person constantly takes advantage of your willingness to listen. I recently chose to end a year-long friendship because this person would only talk about themselves; every conversation would be about their life and their problems stemming all the way back to their childhood. I can’t think of a single time where I was able to fully confide in her while she listened to me. I also can’t think of a time when we did something that I was interested in doing – our times together would pretty much consist of drinking together on the couch while she complained about her life. All. The. Damn. Time.
My therapist – yes, I go to therapy, and it’s awesome – recently told me that if a friendship is not mutually beneficial then it was not even a friendship to begin with. I’m not saying that friendships must be mutually beneficial all the time because that’s not realistic as people go through tough times. There are ebbs and flows in life; sometimes it’s okay to give a little more than the other person and sometimes it’s okay to take a little more if needed. What’s not okay is if someone is constantly expecting to take and never gives anything in return.
Aristotle stated that there are three types of friendships: friendships of utility (a relationship between two people that is useful to each party in one way or another), friendships of pleasure (a relationship between two people who enjoy each other’s company), and friendships of the good (a relationship between two people that have mutual respect for one another).
No matter the type of friendship that you may have with someone, friendships should not be mentally or emotionally draining. I personally feel that good friendships are really meaningful and powerful because they make life a little easier – and a lot more fun. I encourage you to seek out friendships that have a positive impact on your life.
My point is this: it’s okay if friendships come to an end. Whether it be a decision that you made to protect your energy and mental health, or if a friendship just fizzled out because that’s life. As cheesy as it sounds, you can’t be there for others unless you are there for yourself. It’s okay to come to the realization that a friendship is no longer beneficial to you. It’s okay to protect your own mental health and energy – it’s actually your responsibility to yourself. I challenge you to take a look at your friendships and evaluate if they are mutually beneficial. If they are not… I urge you to gather the strength to move on.
And ladies – hold your good friends close because they come few and far between. Let’s be women that empower one another and add positive energy to each other’s lives!