In our younger years, we judged our value and coolness by the number of friends we had. Quantity is always better than quality right? Wrong. The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve realized there are really only a few people in my life who are true friends– people who would be there for me at 2am whether I’m broken down on a highway, need a late-night snack, or just want to say hey.
When you take a step back from things and put life into perspective, there are always people in your life who are dragging you down or polluting the path you are on, or as I like to say “toxic.”
When I finally put that title on it, it made me realize just how much these people were affecting my life in a negative way; mentally, physically, and emotionally. The less people I had in my life, the clearer my perspective on life became, like I was a blind person seeing for the first time. At 21, my life, once judged superficially by the number of contacts in my pink Motorola Razr, became surprising so much fuller with less people in it and I couldn’t be happier and freer.
1. “The Flake”
Nothing bothers me more than when people are flaky. I don’t know about everyone else, but I was raised to only make commitments I know I can keep. Sure, I’ve declined invites to places because, quite frankly, I like my bed more than I like most people, but when you text me saying “I miss you, let’s hang out soon” and then cancel for 372nd time it gets old. If you’re trying to get me to leave the comforts of watching Food Network in my sweats you better be seriously committed.
The people I have kept in my life are the ones who recognize that friendship is a two-way street. It’s not only making plans, but keeping plans. It’s not waiting around assuming that the other person is going to make all the plans, it’s picking up the phone and sending a quick text. It’s reciprocating. Don’t be the friend who cries hangout.
2. “The Mooch”
I’ll admit that I have been blessed with a family who has always been able to give me what I need, within reason. It took me awhile to realize that there were a few people who only claimed to be my friends to get an invite on vacation with us or to use our beach house, but then once it came to actually hanging out in a normal setting they were nowhere to be found.
There are loads of people out there who are only in it for themselves. If they only come around when they need something from you, whether it’s money, advice, anything, and don’t make an effort when there’s nothing in it for themselves, chances are you should get rid of them.
But Heaven forbid I need advice, or I’m stressed, or I need $5 because I didn’t realize that my sandwich bread was moldy when I was making it this morning with one contact in my eye and frizzy hair that rivals Princess Mia’s in the Princess Diaries, why would these people go out of their way to help a sista out. No, it’s okay. It’s cool. Really.
3. “The Entitled Brat”
On the other end of the spectrum, I have been exposed to many people who are the opposite of “The Mooch,” the “Entitled Brat.” These are people who depend on mommy and daddy for everything and chances are talk about money 98.4% of the time. Don’t get me wrong, money is good. Money helps me buy burritos and iced coffee and a college education, but it is not the sole foundation of life or relationships.
While I have lived a privileged life, I am a self-sufficient, hard-working, stubborn woman who was never spoiled. I have come to realize that it does no good to be friends with people like this because if they put a price on everything else in their lives, they probably put a price on your friendship—and a true friendship should always be priceless.
4. “The Offender”
There is a fine line between someone who has their foot in their mouth all the time and someone who is just downright offensive. I have thick skin and no filter and am not afraid to speak my mind, but I know when to stop. When a person jokes about something such as my height, that is okay, I can take that.
But when I had “friends” and even an ex-boyfriend in the past ask me why I couldn’t just stop having anxiety attacks in the middle of having one–that is offensive. Oh, my bad, let me just quickly remove myself from a psychological condition in which right now I feel like walls are closing in on me, it’s really no problem at all!
Chances are, if they say things like that to you in private, they are also the type of person to be offensive in public too. No one wants to be associated with the guy in the restaurant who offends the waitress and causes her to spit in all of your food. Remove yourself from them.
5. “The Drama Queen”
If there’s one thing in life I hate, it’s drama. Genetics claim that girls thrive on drama; that it’s in our blood. I guess that’s why I always had more guy friends than girls. I’m a bro, Sue me. Drama is inevitable, I know that now, but we all have that one friend who feels the need to insert themselves into anyone’s drama, even if it had nothing to do with them in the first place.
Advice? Run, Forrest, run, because chances are if they’re going down they’re bringing you down with them. These people are parasitic organisms who thrive off of drama and negative emotions. Let’s leave the toxic drama (and those friends) back in 6th grade or better yet on an episode of The Real Housewives of New Jersey.
6. “The Complainer”
I have always felt that if people put half as much energy as they do complaining into actually solving the problem, the world would be a much more positive place. Complaining is a natural part of life, but there are people who complain about EVE.RY.THING. Their phone won’t keep a charge. Their soup is 2 degrees too hot and they burned their tongue. The guy at Chipotle cheaped out on the guac (okay, yeah, I’d complain about that too, but you get it).
Complainers drain all of the positive vibes out of everything. They are always looking for a reason that something isn’t up to their standards. As someone who likes to float through life and go with the flow, complainers are not worth keeping around just to have them suck the life out of every situation.
7. “The Unmotivated”
This is probably the friend who needs to go first. The one who will probably be living in their parent’s basement with their fiancé of 5 years and a “job” as a babysitter. The one who only picked their major in college because they “heard it makes a lot of money.” Do not, I repeat, do NOT let these people drag you down to their dark abyss of laziness. You do you. Follow your dreams.
Sure, it looks all fun and games that they wake up at 11am every day, but chances are you’ll be much happier and accomplished if you succeed in all of your endeavors. As someone who has A LOT of plans for my life (some more realistic than others) I will step over any inert lump who sits in my way. Replace them with dreamers, and doers, and thinkers. People who will elevate you, not make you depressed just seeing the train-wreck that their life is headed for.
Not all toxic people are trying to be that way and aren’t inherently bad people. Some care and love for us deeply, but we have to be able to take a step back and care and love ourselves enough to create a safe and peaceful life that makes us happy, as painful as it may be at first.
Life is tough. We spend much of our time on Earth treading water, trying to keep ourselves afloat. Sometimes a person will come along who looks sturdy enough to keep you from being submerged, but quickly disintegrate.
Others end up being the anchor that drags you down. But on rare occasions, a person will come around who is a life preserver, who not only keeps you afloat, but gets you to safe and solid ground. These are the people to surround yourself with. Good people and good vibes always.