I, like many others, fell in love with Marie Kondo’s method of purging your unnecessary belongings when they no longer serve a purpose or spark joy. What amazed me about this whole concept is how it encouraged me to look at other areas of my life with the same critical lens.
I’ve been blessed within the last two years with a really great friend. She’s smart and has lived a few years longer than me, which means she’s been through similar phases of life that I find myself going through now. I see her close to every day, and she’s lent me an ear for a lot of personal stories.
Many times I’ve talked to her and told her about the way certain friends were handling situations. I’d tell her things they’ve said to me, or things they’ve done, and without a beat she’s responded, “That’s not a friend.” No matter how many times I tried to justify their poor behavior, she’s responded, “That’s not a friend.”
At first I thought she just didn’t fully understand the situation, but these occurrences kept happening. It wasn’t long until I was able to state with the same confidence “that’s not a friend” towards people that I had known for years.
It reached a point in the year where it felt like just about everyone that had been close to me was coming forward in a new light. That wasn’t the case, though. It was me who was realizing that relationships borne out of convenience aren’t friendships at all.
Friendships that are one-sided, friendships that are rooted in enabling, friendships that have consistent underlying tones of jealousy, friendships that only pop back up when there’s drama in the air — I realized I had to purge them all. And just like Marie instructed me to do with my clothes, I thanked them for the purpose they served, and I let them go.
I went back to the same friend and told her the bittersweet feelings that came from realizing these people who I held so much love for weren’t good for me anymore, if at all. She then told me yet another nugget of wisdom, that it is so much easier when people show you who they are. It takes out the guesswork when their malice is so upfront.
Funnily enough, this made room for me to meet some of the most genuine friends I’ve ever had. Friends that support me without me asking. Friends that move around their schedules in order to see me. Friends that sympathize with life’s unnecessary drama rather than cause it. Friends that tell me gently when I am in the wrong, rather than criticize me for only being human.
I imagine the hardest part of skydiving is jumping out of the plane. I imagine the best part is the free fall. Recognizing that these people who I felt attached to and cared for had served their time was jumping. Making the new friends is the free fall.
Sometimes I look back and feel remorse at how many people close to me I have lost this year. But now I am learning to see it instead as how much confidence I must have finally gained in order to put my emotional needs first.
So whether they show you something you love or something you don’t want to be a part of, be thankful when people show you who they are.