This year has made me realize a few things – that I have less patience for people I used to have patience for.
I think growing older and interacting with people of all kinds of backgrounds made me re-evaluate my relationships. Some of my relationships go way back to my secondary school days. Some relationships were started in university. Still, some were started during my working days.
I guess we all start the same way – we don’t really choose our friends. They chose us and we accepted it and we all got along fine.
I never bothered to evaluate these relationships but I am someone who treasures and values people. In many ways, I discovered that not everyone valued relationships the way I did.
I am sure you know a friend or two who will disappear for aeons, never call or even meet up but the moment they need something, they’d be all over you.
Ah yes. Those kind of “friends” get booted to the very bottom of the D category.
Then there are some friends who grew up with you but somehow you felt that they’ve never changed. In a way, this can be good. After all, you know that this also means they’ll still love eating nutella and chocolate and getting them gifts is super easy.
The not-so-good thing is that suddenly you feel out of place with them. You’ve grown and I am not even talking about physical growth! Sure, our waistlines have expanded and our faces are plumper and our cheekbones don’t stand out so much. But mentally, we’ve changed too. I can’t quite put my finger on it but I felt I’ve moulted so many times in the past 15 years that I am no longer the old me. And yet, these friends are still the same. In every dimension and thought. (The middle class syndrome is a mind-eating disease of the well-fed.)
Many years ago, I used to get terribly disappointed with them. Our conversations get harder because our topics and hobbies and interests are different. Each time we go out for coffee, it’s an uncomfortable chat.
Until I decided that I should not see them as I am, I should see them as they are. This is where they are truly a product of their social circle and environment. When I switched my thinking this way, I became less jaded. I could even indulge myself and partake in their conversations which are totally out of my usual chit chat sphere.
I did not judge – I just accepted that they are what they are and I just stepped into their world for a while. It made me happier. I wasn’t going to change anyone and no one was going to get hurt. I’m not so invested in them anymore but we’re still OK as friends. Something had changed but by not putting all my hopes into these friends, I have an easier time.
Then there’s that other category of friends whom I used to call friends but were actually acquaintances. I had a friend during campus days who used to be such a negative person. Upon reflecting I figured out why she was so hard on everyone. She was hard on herself. She saw herself as a competitor in this world and she had to be the best. At one time, she was so obnoxious she went up to another girl and asked her, “You don’t study at all so how come you got such good grades?”
We tolerated her on campus for 4 years. Many disliked her intensively and would walk the other way if they saw her coming! I’m so ashamed that she was my “friend” for 4 years and that I didn’t have the guts to tell her that she was nasty and obnoxious.
The good news was, we lost contact after graduation. The bad news was, each time she needed something from me, she’d somehow locate my phone number and call me. I never dreaded anyone calling but she took the cake. Talking to her for 5 minutes was like torture. She’d be all snide and catty. I still wondered, why the heck did I ever tolerate her?
And of course, this friend disappeared after a while. I was secretly thanking God that she’d left me alone.
Until Facebook re-connected us again. She started using another name and I had added her as a friend, not knowing that she was that dreadful person. She started privately messaging me one day and I had the shock of my life.
This time, I had to do something. I un-friended her. I never felt more relief in my life. I should have un-friended her years ago but finally, something snapped. My patience was running thin. I no longer felt I had anything to lose by cutting her out of my life.
Then there’s another who’s always asking for help but never helps in return. He’s always up to something or other and will happily ask me for help. When I ask him for help, he’ll make some excuse that he doesn’t have any contacts. These freeloaders are the people I ignore.
Another kind of friend will always eat with you but never fork out a single cent. Ah yes, these friends are aplenty. Their wallets and purses are often glued to their pockets. I have encountered many. But these friends will only see me once at best because we will only dine together one time and that’s it. If you cannot be generous and pick up the tab once in a while, you don’t deserve to have a dinner companion.
These days, I am more aware of myself and more confident of who I am becoming. Yes, you get to a point at 40 when you go, “What the heck!” I have nothing to lose by removing deadwood from my life. I only want to be with people who appreciate and value me; not parasites who come and go as they please.
Sure I am a giver when it comes to friendships. I am intensely loyal. I will go the extra mile for you. But don’t manipulate me. Don’t give me a whiff of your ulterior motives or greed. The moment I sense that, I will be awfully brutal. Remember that ditty about the girl with the curl on her forehead? “When she’s good, she’s very, very good. When she’s bad, she’s horrible”.
I strive to be the A type of friend – the bestest friend you’d ever have. And if I leave, you’ll have a gaping void in your life.
This morning, I did something I am proud of.
I finally decided to cull yet another person from my life.
I had tolerated her for a long time, overlooking her obsessive compulsive behaviour and her control freakiness. She was often hyper and excitable. I really don’t know how her poor husband lives with her. She is also stubborn and thinks the world revolves around her. I decided enough was enough and I wasn’t going to be her friend the way she wanted me to be. And I heaved a major sigh of relief!
Like all other things in life, once in a while we need to re-evaluate our friends. Are they the kinds of people we want to surround ourselves with? Do they complain all the time but the moment you suggest a plan of action they shut you out? Are they friends and enemies? Are they ready to jump on you the moment you falter?
If yes, be a dear and start eliminating them from your life. I make no excuses for being so upfront about my relationships because I thrive on the absolute good ones. Good friends make you better. The crappy ones are energy and time vampires.
Do you have weirdo friends? Are you as brutal as I am? What are your coping strategies?
Well, Lisa came up to Penang for the weekend. We had lunches and spent time on the beach, just sitting around and talking. It’s so good to see her again. The last time I saw her was in KL, in August last year.