I saw this quote as I was sipping my coffee in front of my laptop, devouring breakfast after the morning rush was over and the school kids were finally out the door and on the bus:
Another inspirational and deep quote, posted on Facebook, one might sarcastically say. But the truth of it struck me, as it has been something I have been taking note of and adapting my life to (and in turn the life of my family to) over the past few years. I would say especially since the chapter of life where I am no longer bearing children, but moving forward and raising my now complete family, has come to be…
I have repeatedly stated that I would rather be alone than wish I were. This can be applied to marriage, friendships, a work setting, whatever. This was not always the case for me. Growing up, I never lacked friends, and during my college years could fill a room with reliable, kind, fun-loving people who I enjoyed spending time with and who would be there for me at the drop of a hat. And I for them.
Marriage and family life changed that for me. The focus of energies shifts when we partner up with another and begin to raise children, or in my case, take on the challenge of co-raising existing children before adding more into the mix. Life changed. When I would find myself back at work, or involved in a supportive online community during my full-time SAHM years, I would regain that sense of friendship. I made some “online” friends that I wound up meeting in person more than once at later dates, have had great phone conversations with, have written Snail Mail letters to back and forth, exchanged books with… We have a deep-rooted need for friendships with others. It is human nature.
The danger becomes when we allow ourselves to let people in who affect us, or our family, negatively, simply because we are lonely. Loneliness can be taxing. But toxic relationships can be even more taxing in the long run.
In my twenties, I was incapable of setting boundaries with others. I was also dealing with babies, toddlers, young children, blended family issues, marriage, housekeeping, and in essence a lot of fatigue that I didn’t even realize was present until it was over. After the birth of my seventh child, and my subsequent tubal ligation, while I did feel a sadness at the thought of no more newborns bringing that “something special” into our home and family, I also felt that something had lifted, and we were taking our first steps on a brand new path of life. It was exciting.
A strange thing began to happen, though. I noticed the effect that outsiders (people not in our immediate home and family) had on me. Sometimes they would inspire me, encourage me, and leave me feeling joyful and rejuvenated when we parted ways. They were positive people; regardless of their struggles or difficulties, they kept their chin up and pressed on and found moments to laugh and see the beauty of life.
But there were other people. The kind who would let comments drop to keep you in your place, or whom you never felt fully comfortable around as they would always become negative, either via their outlook on life their critical nature, or the way they would trash others with no shame. We’ve all talked about others behind their backs, but there are those who do it like sport, and leave you feeling a little like a snake has just slithered across your foot and back into the grass.
There are those who always have problems but never do anything about them. Or those for whom nothing or no one is ever good enough.
I cut ’em off.
Not because I think I’m better, but because I don’t want to be like them. I have seen myself become like them, and I don’t want to. So I choose to be in their company as little as possible. If at all.
I have become… selective. Discriminating, you might say. And I feel that this has come to serve me well. It is a bit like occasional fine dining vs. regular fast food visits. I’d rather do without than eat crap…
Maybe it is my age (35). I see things differently than I used to. And I do not need people for the sake of people in my life. I have many “acquaintance” friends. But friends, in the true sense of the word, I can count on one hand. And that’s fine. They are my gems. And selfishly, they are my friends because they make me a better person through spending time with them. I am also content with my own company (I can hear the shouts now: “What a snob!” “You’re FULL of yourself!” “Ego, anyone???” 😉 ). That makes a huge difference. Time alone can be time for growth. Time with one’s spouse and family can be lovely as well.
Basically, I want to be a better person.
Therefore I choose wisely.
Who are the five people you spend the most time with? How do they affect you?