DON'T BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOUR TV SHOW TELLS YOU
Nothing in life is permanent. Everything is constantly changing. As we grow, we change the course of our lives several times, our circumstances, values and priorities change as well. So I find it very strange that, despite all this, many of us hold on to things that no longer fit. That’s why I believe letting go is an essential tool for a content and peaceful life. And I live by it.
When I say letting go, I am not just talking about material possessions and emotions I hold on to. But I am also talking about people who are not good for me, cause toxicity and negativity in my life and therefore no longer make sense.
Many of my closest friends find it strange. And some people went as far as calling me cold-hearted. But I feel it’s important at times when things no longer make sense, to set people free and let them go on their own journey. I just choose not to be a part of that journey because mine is moving in the opposite direction. And if somehow our paths align again down the road, I’ll welcome them with open arms.
Here’s the thing. I believe we have all been fooled and mislead for a very long time. Romantic relationships and friendships are romanticized and embellished in tv shows, movies and with genius marketing tactics. Ideals and fantasies created by writers have become ideals that we must all live up to. And they are passed on from generation to generation, while we are all eating it up.
For example, you must have a lot of friends or you’re a loser. You must be in several long-term relationships before settling down otherwise you’re emotionally unavailable. And what about BFFs? If you don’t have one and stick with it FOREVER (in creepy whispering voice), it means you have no loyalty or ability to stick through thick or thin. But none of the media we consume is real. Friends (the tv show) is not real. Maid in Manhattan (the movie), not real either. Things in real life don’t happen that way. That’s fantasyland.
Yet we seem to believe these made up stories, ideals and crazy rules that have been created for us by who knows who. Like that the length of a relationship or friendship determines its value and its depth. Or that the amount of time someone spends on the phone with us shows how much they care. That the number of people we have in our photo on our vacation must somehow make that vacation better and more fun. None of this is true.
The length of a relationship has nothing to do with its quality or depth. You could be friends with someone for a decade and barely scratch the surface. And you can meet someone and within a week you can connect and reach depths you’ve never thought possible. It has definitely happened to me more than once. Just because you know someone for a long time, it doesn’t necessarily mean this person knows you, or that you’re deeply connected or that this relationship is even good for you. All it means is, you spend a lot of time with this person. That’s the baseline. And from there, I do something we hardly ever do. I ask questions and examine. Does this person really understand me? Do they respect me? Are they honest with me? Do they care? Do they bring me joy? Do they call me out on my shit? Do they want similar things in life? The list goes on. And then I ask the same questions in reverse.
Many of our relationship problems are derived from an inherited sucky belief system. I used to feel obligated to stay in a bad relationships just because I had put so much time and energy into it. Because it would be a waste to throw it all away now. You know what the real waste was? Me wasting my life staying in bad relationships because of some made up rule that doesn’t make any sense. Not removing myself from people and situations that held me back because I wanted to prove that I am an upstanding person who can stick with it. And you know what I learned? Nobody cares. The only person that cared was me and the only person that decision was hurting was also me.
I’ll give you a simple example. Let’s imagine a romantic relationship where two people start dating, they’re dating, move in together and eventually begin to plan their wedding. But during this process, they have a conversation about their future and realize that one of them wants to buy a house and have kids, while the other doesn’t want kids and wants to travel. Period. It turns out these two people want to go down two completely different paths, and there is no way for them to walk those paths together and be happy. Sooner or later one would resent the other. And they would either split or stay together just to prove to the world that they can stick it out. And most likely be miserable for the rest of their lives. Should they stay together just because they already put so much time and energy into it? You tell me.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not naive in thinking that there is a perfect person for us out there. No. Relationships are hard work and require a lot of compromises. But there are certain things people just can’t compromise on. Different values, life goals, etc. And the same goes for friendships. I believe friends should be the people that help you grow and achieve the best version of yourself. They should call you on your shit and challenge you. But not just that. I think friends, just like in any other relationships, need to be on a similar path or want even remotely similar things in life. Whether it’s personal growth, professional growth or something else entirely…only then will they be able to relate, understand and connect.
Often times I meet people I click with and in that moment it seems like we share the same goals or values. And sometimes we do. But other times it happens because we’re going through the same shit, they are a kindred spirit and can simply just relate. That bonds us together and it’s a beautiful thing because having someone that understands us in times of hardship is priceless. But as time goes on, things change, people change, our priorities change, we start going through different shit, some of us grow and some of us don’t and the bond that used to be there disappeared as soon as the problem was gone without us even realizing it. We all grow, sometimes in different directions, and that’s perfectly okay. It doesn’t make anyone bad. But it also doesn’t mean that we are now are forever obligated to remain in the same friendship with this person.
It’s important to acknowledge these things and evaluate whether this is something that still makes sense anymore. And if it doesn’t, it’s time to move on. It’s very simple. But we make it more complicated than it needs to be. Either something brings you joy and makes sense or it doesn’t. And it’s not because you haven’t tried. It’s okay to move on and set people free. It doesn’t make the experience you had together any less special or the love you felt for each other any less valid. It just means you have served the purpose for which you came into each other’s lives and it’s time to continue on own separate journeys.
I don’t believe in forever after (and before you call me the love Grinch, please continue reading). I believe that’s a huge expectation to put on anyone, including ourselves. And really hard to follow and not set ourselves up for disappointment. I have mentioned that in some of my previous posts. I believe in here and now, today, tomorrow, next week or even a month. And if we find ourselves still enjoying each other and going down the similar path 20 years from now that’s awesome and I consider myself a very lucky person. But if not, whatever time we had together was awesome too. That’s it. That’s why I don’t have a hard time letting people go because I no longer have the expectation that others will fill a void in my life, complete me or define me, make them responsible for my emotional well being or play some role that I need them to be. Friendships and relationships work when people are on similar paths. They say it’s all about the timing, but I believe it’s also very much about the direction.
At the end of every year, I delete phone numbers from my phone, unfollow people on social media and delete tons of emails from my inbox. You might think it’s crazy and yeah, I put a lot of work into it, but it’s very cleansing. It’s not because I am angry or mad, or resentful or hurt, but because I simply acknowledge the fact that we have grown apart and taken different paths. Or things just feel forced and out of obligation. And it doesn’t make anyone bad or wrong. It just is what it is. Staying in relationships out of obligation will only cause anger and resentment. Staying in friendships with people who have chosen different paths will just keep throwing you off yours and holding you back. There are certain things in life we have no control over, but who we allow to join us on our journey is very much in our control.