Despite my chatty nature and confidence dementor, I’m very much an introverted person. I love my alone time more than chocolate, cake… even Clove (which is saying a lot). I need that time, whether it be a few minutes or a day, to recharge. To focus on me, to unload, re-evaluated, to overthink then get over it. I never really understood this when I was younger. I just assumed I was a bit of a loner who was used to having a very, VERY small social circle. Perhaps that is what turned me into an introvert? (Side note: introvert or extrovert, is it a nature vs nurture thing? Are we naturally one or the other or is it a trait learnt?)
I’m very good at having ‘short term friendships’. I classify these as friendships as lasting less than 2 years. In terms of a life time, 2 years is pretty minuscule and with less commitment than a romantic relationship, usually only seeing each other a couple of times a week, 2 years seems to fits. The reason for my short friendships is simply: life. It isn’t uncommon for me to move on. Either I’ve moved house, school, finished uni… it has been a constant string of changing circumstances that have pulled me from one place to another and sadly, some people got left behind.
Here’s the thing with friendships, they don’t have to be permanent. Sure it’s great if they are but honesty, it’s rare to have someone stick around long term. I strongly back the idea that friends drift apart just like lovers do and that isn’t a bad thing. Back when you were in primary school, you only lost friends for two reasons: you moved schools or you had a big fall out. At 5 years old, you learnt what a friendship is before any other connection with a stranger and it is almost peer pressure to stick with that one kid you said “Hi” to on your first day. If you fluttered between groups or didn’t have lunch with that one person, it would be the talk of the class. I know because I was that kid, the Flutterer.
Friends serve a purpose. They are these little characters that support you as you (the protagonist of this epic adventure known as Life) journey through the chapters to build your story. While I was at university, I faced several challenges besides the whole “earning a degree” thing and at the time I had a really good support group that helped me through some of my darkest days. Once I got back on my feet, their job was done and I no longer needed that support. We were all free to continue on with our own stories and once I moved to Norfolk, I lost touch with them (all bar one). There wasn’t a fight, a disagreement or any negativity towards one another, we just all knew that that chapter was closed and it was the roles of the next few people to encourage us along. Sort of like the passing of the Olympic torch.
Every person has these support characters, they might not realise it but everyone you meet serves a purpose. Any story would be bland without the comic relief or the villains and as we walk about our day, these stories intertwine. I am the protagonist of my story while playing the support role is several others. The key thing to notice is when it’s time to pass on that torch. It may never be the right time and you guys are in this for the long hall (credit to all the long term friendships) and if that works for you then brilliant. But if you fail to pass on that flame when you first needed to, then you could end up in a friendship that’s losing its enjoyment. Those friendships where you begin to question whether you are more than just a support character. Without realising it, you might have become the protagonist of someone else’s story and that’s dangerous. You can’t be a protagonist of two stories at the same time, it’s exhausting and you end up carrying weight you didn’t/shouldn’t have to.
This metaphor is wearing thin but I hope you understand that a friendship should be nothing more that support. Ultimately, you are in charge of your own life and only your life and while it may seem harsh, that’s the reality of it. You can influence other people’s decisions but you must let them come to their own conclusion or you’ll sabotage your own story. I say this from experience as I’ve held on to things for far longer than I needed to. I struggle to step back and remain in that support role. I’ve tarnished some amazing friendships/relationships because I don’t know when to stop but you can’t take back what’s been done. You can just continue and learn from it.
Never feel bad for taking control. A true friend will understand and if you find out they don’t, then do you really want that person in your life? Friends shouldn’t bully.