The more I find myself, the more people I lose. ~ Unknown
All of us grow and change; it’s a part of maturing and discovering who we are as people. As we age, it becomes impossible to avoid. Things happen. We may discover a new passion or a new career and decide to pursue it. Our feelings on everything from politics to personal relationships may rotate 180 degrees, as may others'. It's just part of being human.
Yet everyone fears change. Accepting it, on the other hand, can turn it into a wonderful transition. It's all a matter of how you decide to view it.
But there's a problem here. Because much of your outlook has already been decided for you, and is probably held by your friends as well. Thus, the decision to embrace change can often get people's backs up. So the question is: do your friends support you while you are chasing your dreams? Unless you are making an insane, dangerous life choice, your friends shouldn’t be judging or discouraging you (and if they're true friends they won't be talking sh*t behind your back, either).
There are a number of times in life when we may have to move on to sunnier social circles. Here are 4 such examples.
1) Your Feelings Have Changed
Are you dreading the weekend get-together? Do you come up with excuses not to hang out, or does being with them leave you feeling worn out or stressed?
If your emotional health is harmed after each outing, this is a sure sign. It’s unhealthy and unwise to continue with this group. Your friends should be a happy retreat from your everyday grind. A positive social circle should invoke feelings of happiness, security, fun and mutual support.
2) There’s No Growth
Does your group get together to do the same thing every time? Just bar-hopping or shopping? Does everyone rehash the same old memories you all shared as kids or from college? Are you finding yourself playing “therapist” and listening to everyone else’s problems, but having your own disregarded?
Friendship is a two way-street, and it should always contain an element of spontaneity along with its familiarity. Your friends should be interested in your life, your thoughts, and your opinions, and outings should be both refreshing and invigorating, not rote. If your conversations aren’t deeper than one you’d have with a random stranger, or if your get-togethers have become mechanical, then it’s time to move on.
3) The One-Up Game
Do you find yourself being “one-upped” by your friends whenever you’ve announced some news? You’ve just declared something exciting in your life but your friends jump in and make a “bigger” announcement. Or they become condescending and minimize your accomplishment through some form of 'humor' or other (unfortunately) socially acceptable derogatory commenting.
You should never, ever feel guilty or embarrassed when telling your friends about your achievements. Not only will real friends be proud of you, they'll expect nothing less from you, always encouraging you to keep pushing yourself. Patronizing and judgemental people are actually insecure and are desperate to have the upper hand over their friends.
4) The Bucket of Crabs Analogy
The “bucket of crabs” visual is where each crab could easily escape the bucket but instead grab at each other and pull each other down to where they’re all trapped together. This is a perfect analogy for so many social circles out there.
Members of a group will often attempt to diminish the importance of anyone in that group begins to step beyond the spoken or unspoken boundaries that exist within it.
The culprit is almost always some mixture of jealousy and low self-esteem, and they’ll try to eliminate their feelings of inferiority by halting the other's progress, in one manner or another. Jealousy is never good in any relationship, but when it gets out of control in a group situation, this is major red flag to leave that group.
Of course, all of this is easier said than done. Humans often choose familiarity over so many other things, including our own happiness. But you need positive friends in order to stay positive to grow and thrive in your life. You don’t have to disconnect from everyone in that group; you could select one or two you really trust and take them out privately and explain the situation and that you’d like to continue the friendship with them outside that social circle.
If you're feeling any of the things in this article, it may be time to start looking at other options. Pursuing a new group of friends can be as exciting as pursuing a new passion, goal or relationship. It’s elating and scary and all of that other stuff, but I guarantee you, it’s for the best, and you won't believe how clean and fresh the air is after leaving all that stagnant negativity behind.