Anyone who has ever met me knows I am extremely friendly. I like people, I like to see people happy and smiling, I like to spend time surrounded by people. There are times that this is extremely fulfilling and feeds my soul. There are other times that it can be draining and disheartening. Over the last few years with all of the things that have been going on, I continued to follow many of the same patterns which had lead to me following the same cycles. As the pattern and cycles continued, they seemed to be more polarizing in the highs and the lows.
I came to realize that while I value all of my friends, I was putting the same energy into all of my friends. When I say all of my friends, I mean all of them, from the acquaintances to the friends I would call in an emergency and everyone in between. It started to take its toll on me, especially when there were many who weren’t putting in the same energy. Now, there is nothing wrong with that, there are times I don’t put the same energy into a relationship for one reason or another, but for me, that has been the exception.
In an attempt to take better care of myself, I have become more honest with myself about my relationships. This has led to me being happier, feeling more fulfilled, and my friendships are deeper than ever. It hasn’t come without some heartache and trials and tribulations of course but it has been worth it. And I guess that brings me to the main point of my post!
How do you navigate the world of friendship when you know as many people (if not more) than I do? You start by acknowledging that not everyone is on the same level. It is perfectly okay to have different level friends. There will be people who are acquaintances, the ones you see and say hi as you walk by, but may or may not say more than that and might never speak outside of running into each other at an event or the bar, etc. Then there are those who are event friends, race friends, fishing friends, hiking friends, etc. You get together for the said event, you only chat outside of said events when you are planning for the next one, but are great friends when you get together. There are Friends, people you might get together with at the events, but also get together with for lunch or dinner or something else entirely. You chat about things other than a race or fishing, conversations can extend to family and friends, wishes and dreams. Then you have your family of the heart, your friends who would do anything for you and you would do anything for them.
These different levels can ebb and flow. They are not a static decision. How do you figure out where people fall in your life? Meet them where they are at. Give just as much as you receive. Give a little more if you think they will match you, back off if they don’t. If someone starts giving more? Step up and match them if you want to see the friendship grow.
At the end of the day though, remember it takes work from both sides, but not everyone is deserving of the same levels of energy. It has made a huge difference in my mental health and the strength of my relationships.