When I started high school, all I really wanted was a big group of girlfriends to go on loads of adventures with. This secret wish was quite contradictory from my personality of keeping a small, select group of people to trust and confide in, but I couldn’t shake it. Maybe it was because I had seen too many teen dramas growing up, but I was convinced that the only way to happiness in high school was through a network of friends.
In my final two years at school, I finally had the group that I had yearned for through middle school. There was seven of us, and we ate lunch together every day, and hung out every weekend, and were completely inseparable. Then things began to change.
Teenage girls can’t seem to live without stirring the pot, and so gossip and badmouthing became a part of our individual friendships. In the span of three months, I was told that someone else felt I was trying to replace them (twice, actually), that one of our own was speaking poorly of us as a whole to other people, that I was too intimidating, that I was picking favourites.
It went on and on. Someone was always upset, someone was always angry, and someone was always picking sides.
I was confused. After all, wasn’t our exclusive little group supposed to be all smiles and fun times? We were supposed to be loyal and perfect so that everyone else would be jealous of how we always had each other to rely on! What was happening?!
Now, two years after high school, I had only one best friend left from the wreckage of our group of seven. A 1 out of 6 success rate is absolutely abysmal, yet I’m happier today than I ever was growing up.
At first, I felt like an absolute failure. What kind of person manages to alienate every friend they’ve ever made? There was people I’d been close with for almost a decade, that simply weren’t a part of my life anymore. There were girls I had known since I started high school that avoided me as much as possible. The fact that I was the common denominator of all of my failed friendships was terrifying.
But I realized that in all of those friendships, I was never comfortable. I was never myself, but some doctored version that would best suit the needs of the person I was with. As I grew older, I became worse at accommodating every thought and feeling others had and so was left with just me. Plain old, glorious me.
The friends I have now are all aware of my sarcastic, bossy, and often over-dramatic tendencies. And they choose to stay anyways. I don’t have to pretend or act like someone I think they’d get along with better. I don’t have to say what I think they want to hear. I can just be unapologetically me, and they still want to be a part of my life.
Once I stopped making excuses for other people’s behaviour and stopped fearing being alone, I was able to focus more clearly on what I wanted, and who I wanted around. Those friendships were toxic for me and having them end was truly for the best.
I have a deep appreciation for each of people I am no longer friends with because they taught me more about myself than I would ever have learned on my own. I have them to thank for the new friendships I’ve made, because the value of quality over quantity has prevailed again.
Don’t be afraid to walk away from someone who’s holding you back.
Be true, be you. Always.