I’ve never been one to have a lot of friends – in high school, in university, and probably after I graduate – and I’m usually okay with that because I believe in quality over quantity. Recently, however, I’ve started to question how much my “friends” really care about me. I have best friends who purposely make me uncomfortable and then refuse to apologize. I have lovers who never seem to want to chat. I have friends who rarely ask how I’m doing, even when they know I’m struggling. And I have acquaintances who only want to meet up when they have no alternative, and seemingly fall off the face of the earth when they have the opportunity to hang out with someone more interesting than me. This is apparent now more than ever, as a lot of people I thought were close to me have been disappointingly distant during this pandemic.
I’ve never felt this isolated before. Living alone in a pandemic, with everyone around me struggling to some extent, has been incredibly taxing. I understand that it’s not always easy to reach out to people, and that it’s a busy time of year right now, but having “friends” who haven’t put an inkling of effort into connecting with me over the past few months really hurts. However, I refuse to sulk in self-pity and have decided to instead look at this as a positive thing.
Despite the pain and suffering that this pandemic has caused, making me open my eyes and realize that there are very few people who put as much mental energy into sustaining friendships as I do is a silver lining that I’m grateful for. This year, I’ve decided to stop wasting my energy on people who don’t seem to care about me. The people who never reach out or only message me when they need something are no longer worth my time. It’s exhausting to always reach out first and upsetting to realize that my “friends” don’t think about me nearly as much as I think about them. By cutting these people off and putting them out of my mind, I can free my mental load and focus on the few people who really are my friends.
I now check in with people I used to think about daily just once every few months to match the perceived effort that these people put forward. Rather than wasting my time on these fake friends, I have shifted my energy toward people who actually care about me and put the same amount of effort into our friendships as I do. I’ve learned that it’s important to cherish those who are willing to help me through thick and thin and support me through unprecedented situations – like a global pandemic – because these people are hard to come by. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still going to keep in touch with other people and check in on my acquaintances every now and then, but I will no longer go out of my way to care for them in a way that they never cared for me.