Getting older teaches you a lot of things. I remember going through life in my younger days, having so many friends from so many different groups and constantly having plans almost every weekend or evening. I would constantly have people to text and talk to, and always be around large groups. As I’ve gotten older, things have gotten a bit more “quiet.” My circle has definitely gotten smaller, whether or not it was intentional, it’s definitely something that’s noticeable.
I love my friends and my circle, they’re people I confide in and trust with a plethora of things. Those I can turn to when I need them most. But, there are times when I stop and wonder what happened to my relationships with everyone else? Many times when this happens, I get into a mind state where I start to blame myself.
What could I have done more? Is it because I stopped reaching out so much? Did I push them away? There are certain types of people in life who take things personally. When anything goes wrong, they look at the situation as a total and personal jab to themselves. When someone doesn’t respond right away, or at all, it’s something they did. When someone has a bad day and has a bad mood, it’s intentional towards them.
Getting older, I started to realize I was one of those people. I am one of those people.
It took me a while to realize, but I have come to the conclusion that most of my discomfort in relationships with friends and family comes from overriding, overanalyzing, and over-inserting myself as a “problem” in many situations. I take everyone’s slights very personally as though it’s always intentional to me, and a way that people are out to “get me.”
It could be from my immense anxiety, my inability to ever stop overthinking, or just feeling sometimes sad that my friendships in life have drifted into the abyss—but, whatever the reasoning is, it’s not the healthiest way to coast through life and navigate relationships with others.
So, I began to research and read up on ways to self-help—how to stop putting myself as the victim or even the enemy in every storyline with others. How could I stop beating myself up for things I probably didn’t even do?
I was about 14-years-old when I had a huge blow out with a childhood best friend of mine. Crying to my mother about it, disappointed that she had let me down, my mom said: “Not everyone is going to have the same heart as you. You’re going to be really disappointed in life if you think everyone has the same heart as you.”
I have a huge heart—not to toot my own horn or anything. I’m the type of person who always puts others before myself. I probably get that from my mother, the most selfless woman on the planet. But, much of my disappointment and anxiety about my relationships did come from expecting so much from others. When they didn’t deliver the same energy that I gave, I felt like it was a personal attack.
There are some things that I began to read up on and learn about to help myself stop drowning in my own self-hatred and sabotage with friends and family. There were expert-recommended tips and tricks to make me feel a bit more “calm” when people were avoiding me, or even just getting a bit angry out of nowhere.
I started to tell myself that just because I give so much to someone, I should give because I want to, not because I need them to reciprocate that same giving and same energy in the same capacity. Everyone is different and shows their love and appreciation in different ways. I can’t expect someone to be me. I have to accept them for them.
I also started to practice more patience and understanding. If people aren’t available all the time, it doesn’t have to be because they’re avoiding me. Everyone has busy lives and schedules and has their own needs and desires. I can’t expect people to always drop things and be around. Growing up in the age of instant gratification, my generation definitely struggles with the whole “patience” in relationships. Knowing that it’s okay for others to take space, can be healthy for interpersonal growth.
Overall, it’s a work in progress. There are times where people are having their own issues and do take it out on me, and I’ll wonder “Damn, did I do something to cause this?” But, once I realize I’m doing it, it’s a lot of practicing self-talk and self-love.
There’s nothing wrong with trying new things, no matter how old we get.
Lex Gabrielle is a lifestyle writer who believes in messy buns and 3+ cups of coffee a day. When she’s not writing, she teaches high school English, journalism, and creative writing. You can see more of her work at www.lexgabrielle.com.