It seems inevitable that as a new year approaches, we find ourselves reflecting on the things we’ve done over the previous 365 days that must be changed in order to better ourselves for the year to come.
The past year of my life had been a seemingly chaotic one, with some relationships (both platonic and romantic) in my life being strained and others ending completely. Despite learning from the year, I seemed to have carried over some of the negative repercussion of that time with me into 2016 – what should have been a fresh start.
With this in mind, I’ve contemplated the reasons in which this occurred. By contrasting them with my relationships that have endured over the years, I’ve realized that they vastly differ from one another. The key difference is that with these lasting relationships, neither of us have allowed the little things build up to a point in which we would rather stop talking than resolve the issues at hand. Several months into the new year, I have decided once and for all that I will make the best of the remaining months of 2016.
A couple months ago, I wrote an article about losing a girl I once called my best friend to a guy she was dating. This had happened earlier in the year, but was something that had been gradually building for many years. While it’s obvious that her boyfriend at the time was the final blow to our friendship, it was one preceded by countless relatively unaddressed setbacks. Though throwing the blame entirely on a ‘third party’ to our friendship is the easiest place to put the blame, the truth is that it rested on the both of us.
I don’t doubt that she was irritated by me allowing my anger to infuse our conversations with snide remarks or sarcastic comments about her boyfriend’s behavior, his personality, and any other attribute that I could pick him apart for without saying anything directly to his face. Despite not bringing it up to the significant other himself in an attempt to prevent drama unfolding, I was inadvertently creating even more of an unnecessary production by making all of my comments in a back-handed and indirect way.
This is a pattern I admit to engaging in more than one friendship. As we grow up, we inevitably change in some way, regardless of how small these alterations may be. Often, these changes are good and a sign that we are maturing.
However, if others in our lives are developing into their new perspectives as well, we may find that our viewpoints begin to clash. At times, we may unintentionally say things that upset the people around us.
By refusing to acknowledge and address these problems as they come up, we not only open the other’s eyes to something they may not realize the negative repercussions of (and thus, it may become something that they repeat, only to infuriate us all the more), but we also as allow ourselves to stew in the growing resentment initiated by it.
Too many times has this happened to me and yet I continue to let the little things add up. Eventually, there is just another ‘small issue’ added to the pile that causes me to lash out. It’s not that it was specifically the one problem that made me react in such a way, but that this problem is being viewed among the many previously unmentioned ones. It then becomes a matter of seeming childish when bringing up these past occurrences, though it’s not because I am stuck in the past and trying to prove my point, but rather because these are things that are still eating away at me and I’m still upset about them.
On a more positive note, I have also thought about how my enduring friendships have survived for years on end without any major disturbances of the peace. When I think about my three closest friends, my first instinct is to just say that we have never had any issues amongst ourselves, that neither party has done anything wrong. Then reality kicks in, and I realize that there is no way that I have gotten through years without annoying them in the slightest way. Likewise, it is impossible that they have done nothing to irk me.
The way that we handle these irritations amongst ourselves though, is what is truly a testament to our friendships. With these friends, I don’t think twice about calling them out when they are doing something rude, saying something that is unintentionally hurtful, or being careless in their actions.
Just as I am open to speaking up about these things with them, they do the same for me (I fully admit my tendency to ramble on about the same thing for months on end, like a broken record). Because of our willingness to bring forward these dilemmas, we not only prevent the little annoyances from piling up to a boiling point, but we are also making each other increasingly better people.
To me, this is what all relationships, both platonic and romantic, should be about – guiding each other toward being the best person that we are capable of being, as well as keeping each other on the right track.
It’s inevitable that people who are close will have arguments and not see everything eye-to-eye, but we have to ask ourselves if our words and actions stemming from these irritants are making the dilemmas at hand worse than they actually are. If so, is it worth potentially ruining a friendship over, in the long run? Problems, regardless of how small, need to be addressed and then let go.