As I continue to grow into my 20’s, I have come to learn a lot about myself. I’m certainly a lot more comfortable with who I am these days, which I guess comes with the territory. Over the past year I have given a lot of thought as to who I want to be, what I want to do and which direction I desire my life to be moving in. At this point, while I certainly don’t believe I have all of the definitive answers, I do know that trusting my instincts is one of the most important steps to ensuring I become who I want to be.
In saying this, I have recently been challenged by some of the relationships in my life and in the past 12 months I have experienced the most significant loss of my fleeting life to date. For the first time, I have been in the company of death; I thank God that it was the most calming death for my beloved Oma that I could have asked for. It was a sad time, but it drew my family together in such a beautiful way that it made me appreciate them in ways I never have before. As we continue to remember who we have lost, I am forever grateful that we have only grown closer and more appreciative of each others lives.
That being said, I have been challenged by other relationship losses this year; some that have surprised me in ways I didn’t realise were possible. There have been times where I have wanted to give up on people completely. When you meet someone who refuses to let you do that; that is when you question not only their value, but your own.
Another thing I have learnt about relationships is the importance of honesty. As I have gradually learnt how to be less inhibited by my fear of the truth, it has only made my desire for it in other people more poignant. Friendship is nothing without conflict, as humans we are flawed; we have opposing opinions, we are selfish, we do stupid things. If people in our lives are directly affected by any number of these things and they can’t be truthful about it to us, then it’s not a friendship. It’s an acquaintanceship. If a person doesn’t feel the need to respect me enough to share their truth with me, then I am of no value to them.
I once had a close friend in high school that I loved dearly. She was so different to anyone I had ever met before; she literally did not give one shit what people thought of her and I truly don’t believe it was possible for her to get embarrassed about anything. She was so much fun – albeit, not the most positive influence – but a treasure I valued nonetheless. Unfortunately, my friend was also a pathological liar. While her ridiculous stories were mostly entertaining, I did find it hard to develop a deep friendship with her when I knew it would take a private investigator to help me figure out what was fact and what was fiction. We eventually grew apart and she actually ended up cutting me off during one of her irrational phases (of which there were many.) Regardless, I never hated her for it and for a long time thought she would show up again in my life at some point. It’s taken me some time to realise her absence from my life has been for the best. I still think of her from time to time. I miss her. She was a toxic friend and has no place in the life I have finally matured into, but nevertheless, I will always have fond memories of her.
A lot can change from 15 to 23 and as people have come and gone, I have learnt to recognise that not all friendships are built to last. I have struggled for a long time to realise that fleeting moments I have had with some people, were just that. Fleeting. Relationships develop in the strangest ways and being forced into a classroom for 13 years with a bunch of kids your own age can certainly contribute to that. It doesn’t mean you will be friends with all of them for the rest of your life and it doesn’t mean you are bound to them for an eternity either. We just aren’t meant to be tethered to every friendship we’ve had, as good or as bad as it’s been. As I’ve grown older I have realised that friendships aren’t always compatible. Sometimes you just meet in convenient circumstances and it makes sense to be companions.
Recently I have had the experience of giving my all to somebody, who threw it back in my face. For so long I wanted to believe in only the good of this particular friendship, refusing to truly acknowledge the flaws that I knew, deep down, existed. Sometimes in the insecurity of human nature, it is easy to become consumed by your own misery. I fully recognise that and I know it can’t necessarily be helped all of the time. That being said, I no longer have the patience to put up with it. I have experienced the best kind of friendship imaginable, and for that reason, I know what my friendship is worth. It’s not worth my happiness being under-appreciated out of jealousy and dissatisfaction with your own life. It’s not worth being disrespected time and time again by being lied to and by refusing to admit any wrong doing under any circumstance. It’s not worth being brave enough to be unashamedly honest with you, when you never were with me. It’s not worth never receiving a genuine apology from you, ever. It’s not worth the small talk and your ignorance. It’s not worth the sacrifice of trying my best to cater to all of your needs when I know you are incapable of doing the same for me. It’s not worth the refusal to fight for a spot in my life.
The beauty of adulthood is that we no longer have to believe that everybody has our backs, and as hard as it is to admit, I simply don’t have time for those artificial friendships anymore. I was once satisfied with surrounding myself with people who were never invested in my life, more importantly, too consumed in their own to even truly care about mine. I no longer am. My friendship is too valuable for that and I hope yours is too.