My life has been an interesting one when it comes to friendships. Having moved around a bunch as a kid, I barely have any friends from childhood, and I’m totally okay with that. I strongly believe that all the change and geographic movement in my life has shaped me into the person I am today. That being said, it’s given me a very interesting perspective on friendships.
At different points in our lives friends mean different things. When we’re little, we need a friend to climb with on the jungle gym or eat piles of sand with at the beach. As we get a little older, we need friends to sit with on the bus, to eat with in the cafeteria, to run around our yards with after school. In high school our friends are probably the most important thing in our lives, and we try to spend every waking minute with them. We go off to college (or not) and our amazingly close high school friends tend to drift away, we build new friendships, and align ourselves with like-minded people. But after college, everything changes. Some people mature quicker than others, and I was definitely one of those people.
Like the majority of people who went to college, I drank copious amounts of alcohol, went to lots of parties, did stupid things, and all to fit in. The young entrepreneurial movement that’s really picked up steam in the past few years didn’t exist back in 2000 (probably because the Internet was so new). So, I did what any normal young adult does, I found people that I genuinely enjoyed being around, and those were my friends. Let’s be honest, peer pressure is everywhere in college, and it sucks.
As we fast-forward a few years through my first real 9-5 job, through my first company, through creating and building IWearYourShirt, I’ve found myself distanced from most of my old friends and I’m okay with that. I made the choice a few years ago that I cared more about being a happy person (in life and in my career) and I wasn’t going to keep doing things just because it was the social norm. Yeah, it’s not “cool” to sit at home on a Friday and Saturday night and work on your business, but I think it’s way less cool to sit at a job you hate every day, with your only escape being going out at night to get your mind off your job. If you want to work at a dead-end job that you hate, that’s fine by me, I’m just not going to let myself be surrounded by people like that anymore. I’m not going to let other people’s negativity bring me down, when they have the ability to change their situations but do not.
On the flip side, I’ve met some really amazing and inspiring people over the past few years. People who have similar core values and people who want more for themselves (and are willing to fight to get it). It’s hard to explain how great it feels to sit down with someone for coffee, have an incredible conversation, feel a connection, feel inspired, and feel like we’re helping each other. Our society puts pressure on us to have lots of friends and do the things that seem we should be doing. But that’s bullshit. Do the things you want, with people who actually care about you and who you have things in common with. You owe it to yourself to start reevaluating your current friendships and seeing if it’s actually a relationship that matters, or one that’s being kept going because it’s all you think you have. Friendships should be looked at just like romantic relationships: Is that person making you a better person? Do they have the same core values? Do they support your life goals? And on the flip side, do you do the same things for them?
Listen, I’m no life coach, and I’m certainly not telling you to unfriend all your friends on Facebook, I just challenge you to take a look at the people you surround yourself with. Are these people actually helping you become a better person or are you just drinking buddies? Don’t get me wrong, drinking buddies are awesome if that’s what you want in life. Just give yourself a chance to have more in life, especially when it comes to your friendships. Surround yourself with amazing people and make sure you’re doing everything you can to be a great friend for them.
Lastly, to all my past friends I’ve drifted away from, I’m sorry I wasn’t more honest with you. As your friend, I should have stepped up and said I didn’t want to do the things we were doing. To those of you who might read this and feel like we’ve drifted apart, it’s really okay that we did. You have your life, where I hope you’re extremely happy, and I have my life where right now I am extremely happy (a little lost, but still happy).