When I was younger, and throughout most of my adult life, I could not miss a single thing. I loved having a full schedule that included work, fun, family, GNOs, workouts, date nights with the huz, brunch with friends… and it pleased me to see a calendar with events penciled in for almost every night. I loved being busy and socializing in as many circles as possible, which meant, TONS OF FRIENDS. Being double booked on a certain night, to me, meant double fun, and I’d try my best to hit both events, even if it meant only spending a few minutes at each.
Needless to say, I was struggling with a major case of FOMO – Fear of Missing Out. Because of this, I would say, “Yes,” to almost everything. And it was tons of fun… until it wasn’t.
It was exhausting, and if I’m being honest, it was disappointing more times than it should have been. I found myself jumping through hoops to rearrange my schedule to meet up with friends only to wind up terribly frustrated. Frustrated that I went to so much effort to be there only to have them cancel last minute or be so late that we couldn’t enjoy the time blocked off or because they decided to do something better, or because, you know, LIFE. I was frustrated and disappointed in them because they didn’t seem to put forth the same effort as I did into our “date.” I didn’t like being disappointed in my friends. And it was happening more than I liked.
I couldn’t help but wonder, Was I expecting too much? Was I not forgiving enough? Why was I spreading myself so thin to attend all-the-things? Was it so important to have tons of friends and go to all the parties? Am I content with my own life? It occurred to me that I had missed important events or not really been present for a few close friends because I was doing something with new friends or attending the event of the year — or so I thought. I realized I needed to refocus my energy and reevaluate my friendships. Are my friendships deep and meaningful? Also, are they reciprocal? Meaning, am I getting the same love out of these friendships that I am putting into them? I needed to better manage my expectations for myself before I let my unrealistic expectations of my friends disappoint me.
In the process of freeing myself from FOMO and focusing my efforts into the things in life that lift me up, I realized something else: I am as content with solitude as I am with high-energy fun that includes all-the-people. While I love big parties and large group events, I also value one-on-one time with close friends and small groups. I find I can truly learn more about a friend and share more about myself in a more intimate setting. It takes a long time for me to truly reveal myself, and the large circle of friends I had previously didn’t know very much about me. Many of those friendships, while still fun, felt very on the surface. And this left me longing for more. I now yearn for and seek friends whom I can not only trust, but who make me feel safe in our relationship. I need this trust and safe relationship space to be authentic, which ultimately has resulted in the reciprocal friendships I was seeking. Who knew?
Over time, my friends circle naturally dwindled, and I am so much happier with a smaller squad. I have only intentionally disengaged from a few friends in my life, and while zoning in on reciprocal friendships, I found that my surface friends just kind of fell away. Even some of my close friends have become peripheral friends, and that’s okay, too. Because, you know, LIFE! I have great love for them and am thrilled when we can reconnect and jumpstart our special bond again. I’ve also found great friends in unexpected places because my eyes and heart are more open than they were before. My life’s intent isn’t the “events” anymore, it’s the “people.” And I love my people.
During this time of seeking self actualization, throwing a kid into the mix and strengthening my marriage to a man who travels for work, my free time away from family becomes prime real estate. So, I carefully choose where I spend this time because I want my free time to fulfill me as deeply as my family time does. And I’ve been happier with the fewer, quality friendships compared to the quantity of them. Because great, fulfilling, trusting, authentic, reciprocal friendships are LIFE.