As I have gotten older, I’ve noticed that my friend circle has become smaller. I thought about that today and was contemplating whether it’s a reflection of me or a natural process we all go through as we age?
With some friends, it’s easier to pinpoint the drop-off point: a life event such as moving away and losing touch or a specific argument that ended the relationship.
In high school and college, it seemed that I had a limitless supply of friends whom I could call up for whatever activity or reason. It’s easy when you go to school or a place of work where most of the demographic is in your age range. Especially, if you are forced into group situations, you can’t help but make friends. Then, as you graduate and move onto a career you enter a different type of environment with a more varied demographic mix. It’s not as comfortable making friends but still, you are going to see those people forty plus hours per week and after-work drinks or a work event is inevitable, and those type of events often bring you together and facilitate friendships.
In my case, my first job out of college was in the finance industry and I not only moved to a new city, Los Angeles, without knowing a single person but also worked with older people in their late 30s, 40s, and 50s and making new friends was not as easy (I was 22 at the time). I did have some coworkers in my age range, but I found them to be “the mean kids” of the bunch. One girl specifically made my life hell at work. She was so unpleasant and angry at all times that it made it impossible to interact with her and not end up in a bad mood. I don’t understand how people like that thrive in a work environment but she still works for the team to this day. I believe in being nice and doing a job well, but I guess the investment world appreciates other qualities. So long story short, I met a few people there and started developing my LA friend circle.
Now most of us meet people through other people we know so the crowd you first associate yourself with in a new city might be more crucial then people realize. For example, active people tend to gravitate to other active people, partiers hang with other club/bar loving people, gossip/drama girls hang with other nosey people and so on… Well I never met the right group of people for me for a couple years in Los Angeles, and it made it quite lonely. Most people that will describe Los Angeles to you will say the weather is amazing and the people suck. It’s true, sadly. Most people move to LA to realize their dreams, right? So, naturally people are on the grind to make things happen. At some point though, they lose track of having a balance between work and play and they begin to almost use everyone they meet to propel them in whatever direction they are trying to go. I guess you can call that being extremely driven, but when you make friends with an end game in mind it makes me want to curl up into a ball and never leave the apartment. Slowly, after meeting more people than would be necessary in any other state, I finally had a very small group of friends that I enjoyed being around. My problem was that I made some of these friends through people I was in relationships with and I quickly realized how tricky those friendships could be. I thought if I was nice, respectful, and loyal to someone I should expect the same courtesy in return, but no. When you meet people through your significant other, their loyalty will always be with them. Especially in Los Angeles, it doesn’t matter if you were technically closer to that person. If your significant other can provide them with more than you can (connections, invitations to the best parties, glamorous whatevers…) that is were people’s loyalty goes. Well, I definitely learned that the hard way and so my friendship circle shrank again. But it was ok because I still had my close group of friends that I grew up with, and I leaned on them in those times.
Then, I also started to cut out the friends that were only good friends in times of need (for them) or if you were always on their time. This was also tricky because I didn’t even realize I had these types of friends. They seemed like great friends and they were part of my daily life but when I took a step back and let things fall where they may I started noticing things I didn’t like. The friends who when shit hits the fan in their lives you see everyday and as soon as life gets back on track for them and the current catastrophe goes away so do their daily texts and calls. I guess that’s human nature I guess but I felt like I was being used. Then, there are also the friends who will be there as long as what you’re doing is on their schedule and convenient for them. This I can’t stand for two reasons. One being my fault because I’m overly accommodating to people and I should partially get mad at myself and two because it’s selfish. As soon as I started standing my ground and became less and less accommodating, I also started seeing those friends less and less. Once I realized, I completely stopped trying to see if they would take the initiative to be accommodating to me and when they disappeared, so did our friendship.
In the past, I would have tried to reconnect with those people and accepted that they just don’t have the same characteristics as me and liked them for who they were but I got fed up honestly. I have a new policy: why try hard for someone who doesn’t try hard for you? I let bygones be bygones and moved on. So now, we’ve made a full circle and I’ve come to realize that my friend circle has severely shrunk in circumference but with the decrease in size there was an increase in quality. So I’ve come to realize quality is better than quantity. I’ve always known that but never really took the time to apply it to my life until recently. Frankly, I feel more at peace now than I’ve felt for some time. Although, I might have come off as rude or cold to those friends whom I’ve left behind, at the end of the day, I have to look out for myself. My peace of mind is what’s important now. I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve and if I continue to make excuses for people like that and be overly accommodating to the point where I’m no longer comfortable and start compromising who I am, then I truly just do myself a disservice.
I want this year to be one of growth for me, and I can’t grow as a person unless I’m able to be reflective and self-critical and learn from my mistakes. One of the biggest things I’m working on is having no expectations of people in my life. I have this awful habit of expecting people to react in a similar manner to me but I need to remember that everyone thinks differently and having any expectations at all always ends up in disappointment. A better way to approach things is to adjust when people don’t react the way I want them to and decide if that situation works for me or not. But everything is easier said than done, and I believe people are a continuous work in progress and as long as we take some time to reflect and reevaluate then we can be proud of our ability to evolve as we mature.