When did “it’s fine” become my catchphrase? Worse, when did I start believing things were “fine?” Cancelled plans, empty apologies, and half-assed excuses. When did having friends become a full-time job? At 22, I look back on my past four years of college and contemplate what really matters…who really matters. Those I would go out of my way to be around, to share my next years of life with. I look at those that I want to be excited for in their next chapters, and in doing so I realize that the people I partied with every weekend, the ones I sat around with on Saturday mornings sharing stories with, and the ones I held hands with while they cried… They don’t make the short list.
If you’ve ever been a friend of convenience then you probably understand what I’m talking about. People shared things with you because you were consistent and present, not because they valued your input. You always had people to go out with because “you could handle your alcohol” or “you weren’t embarrassing.” While you took pride in these achievements you realized that they weren’t foundations for friendships, nor were they real resume builders (although being able to handle your alcohol might be in the right context). And while you got to enjoy all the perks of being part of a friend group…a crew…a squad… you knew deep down you didn’t belong there – you deserved better.
While you were a friend of convenience, these people actually mattered to you. You wanted them to be happy. You wanted that boy to text them back or that teacher to give them an A. You wanted one of them to ask you to be in the picture instead of asking you to take it, but it never happened. You told yourself it didn’t matter. It was fine. If you kept being there for them they’d be there for you when it counted. You were strong. You didn’t need the constant validation that they seemed to need – until you did, and they weren’t there. They ran through the motions. Held your hand when you cried but when you got around to picking up the pieces, that’s where the compassion ended. They had moved on with their own dramas and if you brought up your own they questioned why it still bothered you. You were the friend of convenience; you were supposed to be drama-free.
It wasn’t convenient that they had to keep being there for you.
So now I’m at a rare crossroads in life where I get to start over. My so-called friends have moved away to start their lives and of the ones still here I am in a position to keep if I please or to leave if I don’t. It is a lonely position to be in also. To come to terms with this idea that for a period of time I may be facing this transition with only a very few people on my side who treat me how I deserve and will put me first when I absolutely need them to. But these are the friends we all deserve and I beg you to not wait as long as I did to figure that out.
Be friends with the people who make you happy – the ones who want you in the picture, not taking it.
Be friends with the ones who not only want to share their lives with you, but want you to share yours with them too. They don’t have to agree with you always, but they have to respect you and at the end of the day they want to be there for you because you enhance each other’s lives. They may not be the easiest friends to find; but they’re the best investment you can make if you’re willing to put in the work. You never need to be a friend of convenience just because it’s more convenient then finding the friends who will love you for who you are.