You know the feeling—you go out ready for a night of fun with your friends but then it ends with drunken brawls, tears, vomit on your shoes, chasing after a friend because they’re about to make a bad decision. I think everyone’s felt this at some point.
All your friends are drunk or on drugs. Maybe they’re having a good time—you’re not really sure. You notice they’re oblivious to everything. They’re sloppy, and will probably regret whatever they do the next morning.
Maybe it’s the same place you go to every weekend; the same corner club in the city, the friend of a friend’s house, an abandoned building, a bar with the same faces. Maybe you go because your friends go and you’d feel like you’d be missing out if you didn’t.
Whatever the reason may be, you’re here in this place, at this social gathering, and you hate it. You can’t take the atmosphere—whether it’s the smoke misting in the air or the vibes of the people—it feels too much. On top of that, you’re drunk—too drunk. The depressant aspect of alcohol eventually takes over your body, and then you’re drunk to the point where you’re sad and uncomfortable.
Partying gets old. Drinking gets old. You wonder if you should’ve spent your Friday night this way. Maybe there were other things you could’ve done that would’ve really held your interest. Maybe it was reading a book you’re dying to finish, catching coffee with a friend, playing basketball at the recreational center, going to the movies. But instead you’re here, uncomfortably drunk and ready to go home, but you don’t even make it home. You go home with a stranger. Or you go home with the person who isn’t sure about you, and probably never will be. It’s a vicious cycle, and somehow we keep going along with it.
We go along with it because maybe we’re too scared to venture out and be on our own. We rely so heavily on our friends that we forget who we are and what we truly want. What seems “cool” is what people follow, and for God’s sake, you’re seventeen or eighteen or nineteen or whatever the hell age adolescence and early adulthood encompasses—of course you want to do what’s in. We want to feel accepted, loved, understood. This becomes problematic when we’re not who we really are, or who we ultimately want to be.
It’s so easy to get carried away by our surroundings and what’s accessible to us. Drugs, alcohol, reality TV, social media. It’s easy to make excuses for people in your life who indulge in these things because they’re your closest friends. You grew up with them and have been through a lot. You’ve seen different sides of them, because you’ve had those really great and meaningfully deep conversations. You think you really know them, but sometimes that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Who we really are is when we’re alone, and we never really know what our friends do behind closed doors. We can only work with what they show us. They may not share every detail of their life to you even if you share yours. There are hidden parts of people that even best friends can’t unlock, but that’s just the way humans work. The only thing we can do is change ourselves, not the other person.
When you find yourself sorting through the good and bad in the relationships in your life, it’s important to look at the whole picture. Making excuses for someone who may be toxic in your life is not helpful and only confuses you more. There’s an intuitive feeling when you sense a relationship just isn’t right. Don’t fight that. When you’ve been uncomfortable for a long time with a relationship you’re making excuses for, one day you’ll snap. You won’t be okay with the arrangements or how the other person treats you or acts. You change when not changing becomes too uncomfortable.
Yes, there may be conflict, and you might have to find others for those monumental moments you’re supposed to spend with friends—like concerts, prom, summer holidays, the beach. But at least you’ll spend these moments with people who matter. If you can’t find a way to go with other people, at least you won’t have to spend the entire time faking the way you feel—essentially cheapening the experience. You may post a picture on Instagram with you and everyone smiling wide looking like you’re having the time of your life, but maybe right before the shot you were feeling just like the song.
It’s okay to outgrow people. It’s okay to realize that interests and priorities don’t line up. If this person doesn’t inspire you to be a better person, odds are, they weren’t meant to stay in your life. If you don’t respect this person—if you don’t admire any of their abilities and strive to be better in those aspects—then maybe it’s time to find people who do motivate you in that way. If you have stupid fights, bouts of uncertainty, and affected moods because of a relationship in your life, it’s time to walk away.
Sitting across a coffee table with one of the most inspirational people in my life, we talked about this among other things. I laughed at one point, quite loudly, and a man sitting across from us looked over. I thought I was disrupting him, and then lowered my voice to continue the conversation. From the corner of my eye I saw he gathered his stuff and stood up.
I thought he was going to move because we were talking too loudly, but he unexpectedly stopped by our table. He said he overheard us talking about friendships and relationships, about our mental growing pains and how desperately we wished to be little again. He held out a white line piece of notebook paper with words written on it. He read it aloud to us, his glasses at the bottom of his nose,
“My wife always say . . . Remember! People are in your life for seasons, reasons, and life time. At the end of the day be happy and content with you. Don’t allow people to interfere with your Season of Happiness. Don’t allow people to interfere with your Reason of Happiness. Don’t allow people to interfere with your Life Time of Happiness.”
I like that this idea has two dimensions to it; people and happiness comes in three forms. People may be in our life for a season, meaning only a limited amount of time. Maybe you two drifted away after college or after a summer club. People may be in our life for a reason, meaning they taught us something—whether good or bad—and we’ve become better people because of it. And people may be in our life for a life time, meaning they’re the ones who no matter how far of a distance and no matter how much time has passed, they’ve still made an effort to keep you in their life.
Genna and I were smiling from ear to ear as he read it to us. We thanked the man, and then he gave me the note and left.
Genna looked over at me and said, “You’re totally gonna write about this.”