I unfollowed a few old friends last night on Facebook. I had known some of these people since I first moved to this area. I had laughed at their jokes, sat on their porches for chats…some of these people had been regular visitors to my home for years.
But something has changed inside of me these past few months. I found myself taking different routes as I ran my errands to avoid their houses.
I found myself deliberately cutting conversations short.
Then I found myself growing frustrated over their social media posts.
They talk about the same things all the time, I sighed to myself.
While I didn’t unfriend them entirely, I did stop their posts from appearing in my feed. I no longer cared about their most recent breakups or the battles they were waging with their neighbors across the street.
I was tired of watching them brag about their latest purchases one week, only to complain that their electric was shut off the next.
I was frustrated at their constant discussions of poverty. I’m poor too but instead of complaining, I hit the books even harder.
Facebook dinged at me as I finished my task. I glanced at the name and then closed out the page.
I wondered at that as I settled down to read. Was I becoming cold? Was I so driven to succeed that I was deliberately distancing myself from others?
The accusation had been leveled at me recently. I had forgotten how to have ‘fun,’ one friend complained.
I ended up spending a restless night as the puzzle turned in my brain. What was causing this change in behavior?
I’d noticed that I was becoming lonely. I’d noticed that I was sharing less of myself to others around me.
I’d even noticed a growing frustration as I found less and less to talk about with my friends. I found myself actively working to keep them talking to me so that I could avoid facing the fact that I no longer had anything to contribute.
The wee hours of the morning caused me to turn the question on its head:
Was there anyone in my life now that I associate with more?
To my surprise, the answer was yes.
I discuss the stock market and business issues with my neighbor, who happens to be a manager at the store next to mine.
I commiserate over the frustration of trying to juggle work and self-improvement with a friend who is attending college. Like me, she finds herself fighting for the right to improve her life with friends who want her to hang out with them instead.
I find myself cherishing the nights when I get to work with a friend who became a CNA, got a better paying job, and dropped down to working only one night a week at the store.
She plans to aim for a nursing degree now.
I realized that I have more in common with the kid who recently graduated BASIC after joining the Army Reserves, and I look forward to seeing one friend stop in the store after work. She managed to escape her job in fast food to become a preschool instructor.
I’ve even noticed the revival of a friendship that started back in the fourth grade. We chat more now than we have in years.
I recalled reading once that we are a reflection of the five people we spend the most time with. I didn’t think much about it at the time I first encountered the theory; I’d been a frustrated single mother just trying to make ends meet back then so I’d dismissed the notion as nonsense.
Over a decade later I’ve finally realized that there is truth in those words.
As You Change, So Do Your Friends
It is completely normal to change over time, especially if we embark upon a plan of self-improvement. We instinctively gravitate towards others who, just like us, want to change their lives.
This epiphany helped me to realize that I’m not becoming snobbish or jaded.
I’m not spending too much time focusing on my work.
I’m just changing, and with that change I now have less in common with the people from my past.
It is a sign that I am making progress.
Have you noticed your friends changing over time? How does that make you feel? Please share your stories in the comments below.