I’ve never wanted tension with anyone. I’m a people-pleaser; I don’t like being involved with drama. I always find myself saying yes to helping out with this or that, as I never want to disappoint, and I’m as non-confrontational as they come. In terms of who I am as a friend, I am loyal to a fault. In telling you all of this, I mean to say that I can be a complete and utter pushover at times.
What I’m realizing very quickly is just how limited my time is, and I’m guessing yours is, too. We have so many commitments all over the place nowadays, which can be so enriching and rewarding, but they each take up a portion of our time little by little. When it comes to activities (school, work, hobbies, etc.), we can more or less control how much time we invest, or we can at least plan for it. However, time invested in people is more of a question mark, as it’s a relationship that we want to nourish and grow.
There are emotional connections involved, and while it may be easy to separate your economics class from your shift at a local restaurant or your workout at the gym from cleaning your house, the people we spend a lot of time with are woven deeply into our lives across the board. Friendship is a huge time investment, and as harsh as it may sound, we really need to be particular about who we are handing our time over to. In this post, we’ll be focusing on who we consider to be friends, but this could easily go for family, as well.
Ultimately, true friendship is investment of time in one another, not one person always giving and the other always taking. As with many things in life, we have a choice in who we surround ourselves with. There are a lot of strategic people out there right now; they are great at making friends who benefit them or boost them in some way. The concept of “clout” on social media has slowly but surely leaked into personal relationships, and it seems it can be hard to trust people. These are the friends who only want to spend time with you when they need something, but wow are they good at making you feel special when you do spend time together. You find yourself wanting more but getting scarcity, giving and giving only to see you’ve been run dry.
Here’s a reminder for you, for me, for us all: it doesn’t matter how long the friendship has existed or the good memories you’ve shared with someone. We need to take an objective look at who they are right now and at whether or not the friendship goes both ways. I want to give you permission to take a step back and put in the same amount of effort that they are. What feels like a loss at first can become incredibly freeing with time. Don’t cut people out of your life on a whim, but if someone repeatedly shows you that you are not one of their priorities, then why should they be one of yours?
I do have a clarification, though. I am not referring to when a friend is going through a tough time and needs to lean on you more than usual. That’s when we need to show up and give more than we take. The “friends” I’m referring to are the ones who repeatedly and regularly use you, take your time for their benefit, and can almost never seem to make time for you, even when you’re the one having a tough time. I’m as busy as anyone, but I make plenty of time for my friends because I love and care about them deeply.
The best form of self-care we can give ourselves is understanding what we deserve in our relationships and truly assessing whether or not we’re receiving that. When we allocate our time according to our self-worth, that’s when we begin to invest in the people who really matter, and in turn can invest more time into our passions and priorities. This creates a symbiotic relationship between our perception of ourselves and how we live our lives, making less time feeling hurt and betrayed, and more time feeling fulfilled. Valuing my time is valuing myself.
I’m not begging for anyone’s time anymore. The circle of people around me are crucial to my success. When I walk away from spending time with my core people, I should more often feel joyous and content than upset and anxious. Relationships take work and there will always be bumps along the way, but we need to make sure that the relationships we’re holding close aren’t big bumps in and of themselves. Get picky.
There is an ebb and flow to giving and taking. Making choices for yourself alone is okay and necessary. I’m still learning how this all works, but I know that my core group is going to be the people who show up for me like I show up for them. I’m prioritizing myself, and I’m striving for health and prosperity all around, starting with my relationships.
Much Love, Quinn
Crazy cat lady. Exploratory writer. Much love.