Recently, I expressed to a lawyer friend of mine my growing discomfort with another friend. The lawyer, about 15 years my senior, told me of a friend he had to distance himself from many years ago. His friend asked him for a ride to what turned out to be an illegal gun sale. Needless to say, police stormed in and my lawyer friend had a bunch of explaining to do. Fresh on the job, he could have lost his law license and livelihood. After telling me this story, he said, ”Some friends, you just gotta let them go once you outgrow them.” This has never been truer, and I’m urging you to do away with friends you no longer feel a connection to.
A friend you’ve outgrown could hurt more than help you. For example, you’ve been selling soap online and doing well. To your friend, you float the idea of going bigger. Contrary to supporting your idea, the friend immediately shoots the idea down. Your feelings are hurt, and now, so is your self-confidence. Now, you won’t follow through on your idea. You don’t need this type of ”friend” around you. For your own sanity, you must discard these people. Keeping them around threatens your future. They’ll never support you. They might cause you to stop supporting your own self.
”We’ve been friends forever.” That line is a common one we use when deciding whether to discard someone from our lives. We equate time with bond. The longer we’ve known someone, the closer the bond. The very thought of severing that bond could be overwhleming. However, even though time is required for binding, it doesn’t necessarily mean the bond is solid. Knowing someone for a long time doesn’t make them a required fixture in your life. Remember, some things thrive with time like fine wine or cheese. Some things rot. You must root out the rot.
But ”outgrowing” someone is so general. What does it really mean? Picture being out with an out friend who’s now married as you are. That old friend sees someone of the opposite gender and makes a life sexual comment about an affair they would like to have and then makes an attempt to hookup with someone other than their spouse. If you’re settled down, faithful and a family person, you will cringe. You’ll feel uncomfortable. Ten years ago, you wouldn’t have felt so awkward. You’ve outgrown that friend. It’s time to cut that person off.
Cutting off a friend doesn’t always mean totally kicking them out of your life. You might enjoy their phone conversations or social media content. Nothing is wrong with that. Still, you don’t want to hangout with that person because trouble follows them. So, keep being social media friends with them. Be only social media friends with them. Comment on their posts. Laugh at their jokes. When they ask you out, make an excuse. Don’t make promises to see them, however.
Friendships are like vehicles. Some are great for getting you long distances. Others are only good for the point A to point B ride. Not everyone is meant to go the long haul. Identifying friendships no longer beneficial to you is vital. Doing so gives you the opportunity to reevaluate your friendship. You’ll probably find it’s been time to do away with that relationship. That friendship vehicle is no longer viable.
Regardless of who you are, you need friends who share your likes and dislikes — not that you need a exact replica of yourself or a yes person. You need someone similar enough to make you comfortable but real enough to make you uncomfortable if you ever need a reality check. So, meet new people at work or on the internet. Join a bookclub or bike club. Finding new friends is important, or you will be stuck lonely.
Outgrowing friends is natural, and it is OK. There is nothing cynical about realizing you no longer share a connection with a friend. It happens. Hanging on to defunct friendships will hurt you. Move on, and meet new people. Come out of your shell, assert yourself and find someone who supports dreams as big as yours.
*Jermaine Reed, MFA is a writer from Chicago who writes fiction, nonfiction, local news stories and national news stories. For self-publishers, authors and other writers and creatives, Jermaine provides proofreading on Fivver. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get my recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here.