Why Having Less Friends Means More Love
It's always entertaining for me to watch people react to the news that I am an only child. Nine times out of 10 the overriding sentiment is disbelief (the same shocked looked crosses their face when they learn I was a cheerleader). Perhaps this disconnect occurs because I have spent the majority of my existence on this planet trying to gather up as many friends as I can, like a demented farmer harvesting a field of friends. From an early age, I committed to the task of filling my life with pseudo siblings whom I believed would protect me from my deeply rooted fear of being all alone. This desire to be surrounded by warm bodies lent itself to some very blurry boundaries and wounded feelings on a repeat loop. I can't say I learned my lesson about handing out friendship like green beer on St. Patrick's Day in a timely manner.
Embarrassing as it is, it took me until my mid 30's to stop hoarding human connection. But if there's an upside to being a friend collector, it's that you learn a lot about who you absolutely don't want to kick it with and who you absolutely must. My greatest lesson being: less friends means more love. The thing about friendship that makes it unique to all other meaningful relationships is that there is an unspoken mutual agreement to enter into and maintain the mojo. No proposals, no shared DNA, no contracts drawn up by your boss. Just two people choosing to share their lives in a platonic way. So why do some friendships work, some fizzle, and others burst into a rancid trashcan fire? It all boils down to the degree to which both people can be authentic.
The simple definition of authentic is: real. Both people must be free to be seen, accepted, and supported for who they truly are in order to sustain a healthy friendship. Yet you tweak certain parts of yourself or bite your tongue or go along with the crowd because you risk rejection if you don't. And feeling rejected really sucks. These type of relationships are only partially fulfilling because it requires work and vigilance. In order to experience whole, meaningful friendships, it's crucial for you to feel like you're being your authentic self. (Stop right now and name the friends who make you feel empowered, supported, and joyful.These are your people.)
Invest in quality time and transparent chats with them; make spending time with them a priority; encourage and love them with the ferocity of a championship eater training for National Hot Dog Day. These are the folks who aren't threatened by your awesomeness, who don't compare but instead believe that your lights shine brighter, together. This isn't to say that you can't be friendly with the people who don't make this list — the point is that you shouldn't invest too many of your limited resources in the fringers.
Your tribe is the keeper of your gifts and lovers of your imperfections; their friendship is not conditional or judgmental or draining. They are quality over quantity. There's never a bad time to weed your friend garden. Pluck out all the ones that are not meant to be there anymore, wish them well, and send them on their way with love. The difference between a weed and flower is that weeds are invasive and disrupt the garden, while flowers have one mission: to bloom and blossom. Neither of you can grow properly when one is not in harmony with the other. Gather often with your fellow flowers and keep reaching toward the sun.