You’re not a bad friend! You may simply not know how to be. Throughout primary and secondary school we experience a variety of personality changes which introduces new friend groups. While many have heard the cliche “you will not walk out of high school with the same people you walked in with” phrase, it is not something you believe until you’re like me – a soon to be graduate with maybe two to five genuine friends I speak to daily. Unfortunately, no one teaches you how to establish healthy friendships throughout the evolving phases and “ages changes” in your life. Allow me!
I found that one reason I would switch and drop friends so often was because we did not have anything truly in common. Learning yourself, your values, and your morals will guide you to identify your people. Don’t get me wrong! It actually is not healthy to surround yourself around people who are lukewarm, always agreeing with copycat mind sets. Choosing people because they allow you to lead or because they look good for your social portfolio will have you surrounded with friends that we refer to as, well, snakes. Establishing friendships with people that will challenge your thoughts and motivate your plans even if they do not want the same goals, you have set. But, to stop dropping friends faster than flies – learn yourself to find your people.
After you find your people, the second step is keeping them. The first step is knowing yourself; the second step is knowing your friends. Knowing what type of friend they are is important. Are they party friends? Study friend? Therapist friend? All-around best friend? If you don’t comprehend what type of friend a person is you could easily get disappointed. For instance, expecting your party friend to come to the library or art gallery with you will probably lead to them laughing and telling you that is the lamest idea they have heard. This would be the job for the all-around best friend! I know it sucks, but as we age it is hard to have a friend that will do everything and anything with you because guess what? We all know ourselves, our interests and morals and we’re all different.
You Are Not A Life Coach
This is for the people like me – the therapist, has her stuff together at all times friend. YOU ARE NOT A LIFE COACH. My mother has told me for years, sometimes it’s alright to take a step back from the trauma dumping friends put on you. A healthy advice-giving relationship is reciprocal but I found myself drained after giving advice and when I needed it – I did not have a friend that had the wisdom to guide in nearly any of my situations. Respect yourself enough to step away, take a deep breath and give yourself the energy and advice you so easily and wholeheartedly give to everyone else in your life. While saying this, I emphasize that you must give yourself space to breathe while intaking your feelings and implementing boundaries!
Best For You vs. Best For Them
You cannot want more for your friends than they want for themselves AND you cannot force your reflective wants and needs on what people in your life should do in their life. You can still be a supportive friend! Being a head strong, resilient friend has caused conflict in my relationships because I never stopped to ask, “What is it that you want to do with your life?” or, this is a new one I learned, “Would you rather hear advice and guidance or feel comfort and compassion?” This will save you from over stepping or over playing your part. There is nothing wrong with asking what your people need from you, you cannot read minds.
Five questions to help you create a safe space in your relationships:
- Do you want comfort or advice?
- I want you to face your full potential as well as you do! What is it that you want to do with your life?
- I know you are having a rough time. Would you rather stay in and cope or go out and get your mind off things?
- I actually need some time to myself today, I am going through something at the moment. Can we talk later?
- Lately we haven’t seen eye to eye. Could we sit and talk about what our differences stem from?
A few tips:
- Contrary to common belief, higher expectations will strengthen your experience and boundaries and limit disappointments. People will know what they can and cannot do in your life. Have high expectations!
- Be consistent. Stay supportive, be loving, be someone to count on, comprehend and communicate.
- Have fun! Don’t always be the serious friend. Sometimes in tough times, your people need an adrenaline rush-not a TED talk.
- Birds of a feather flock together. Who you surround yourself with, you COULD become. Choose wisely.