Filter Your Friendships Through This Question

friendship advice

When my friend was relocating to the Midewst after nearly two decades of living the California dream, she called me up with a very specific question. “How do you make friends in a new place?” she wondered. It wasn’t a thought I’d ever considered, but the answer shot out of my mouth immediately. “You just have to believe there are awesome people everywhere and then trust that you’ll find them,” I advised.

Making friends has always been easy for me. Knowing when to cut them loose, another story. For me, people are where it’s at — I am into humans and the beautiful connections that happen between them. I am a champion of the human spirit, that untouchable yet absolutely emotionally tangible essence of a person that makes them exquisitely unique. I have a knack for picking the redeeming needle out of a shit-covered haystack, which is to say I can often sift out the one saving grace a monster has lurking below. And although this sounds like a very rah-rah, find-the-best-in-others, Pollyanna skill set (and I do believe it is a golden gift of a personality trait), it tends to skew my vision when not properly managed.

Friendship is an unspoken agreement that you enter into on your own volition, yet it is one of the most complicated relationships to navigate. Often times, a divorce is less messy than a severed friendship. Which makes me realize how sacred those pieces of your heart and soul a friend occupies can be. And being that these bits of yourself are vital to your happiness, shouldn’t you be filtering your friendships with special care and attention?

I’ve learned to ask myself one simple question when it comes to friends: How do they make me feel? If this is difficult to answer, you can go a little deeper and explore, Which version of myself am I around them? Any friends worth having should be like vitamins, nourishing you on a cellular level, making you feel stronger and more full of life. Not every person is worthy of the title, “Friend,” and not every friend deserves to be kept around. Would you keep a molded, rotting pot of soup sitting on your stovetop forever and ever just because you have history? Even if it was hard at first, eventually you would toss that congealed bacteria-fest out with the trash.

Let me acknowledge here that I am fully aware of the difference between breaking up with a friend and throwing away soup. You form bonds and connections with those you choose as friends and when those ties are broken it is a loss. It’s not so much the loss of that person in your life, but parting ways with the specific part of you that the friend takes with them when they go. Like a bee that leaves its stinger in your flesh after attack, even when you are relieved to see a friend go, there’s a little sliver of pain that remains.

It’s OK to feel sad when things don’t work out, but don’t mourn the ghost of a friendship that didn’t make you feel top notch for too long. Your time and energy is too precious to be spent on people who are not soul vitamins with ingredients of the highest quality. How do they make you feel? Who are you when you are with them? Remember: there are awesome people everywhere, you just have to trust that you’ll find them.