When I was homeschooled growing up, I always imagined having dozens of friends. I had a few close friends, but never very many.
Later I went to high school and college and I made friend after friend. Much to my delight, making friends with lots of people was easy and fun. I imagined the people I met in school I would know forever and ever.
Yet with many of the friends I made, I noticed that over time they negatively influenced my life. They had terrible attitudes and I never felt good when I was around them. Still, I continued to stay friends with them. There is a tendency with young people to ‘collect’ friends over time. With a lot of people who went to school, it’s a badge of honor to say, ‘we’ve been friends for decades, since fourth grade History class!’. Yet I began to wonder: why?
Why stay friends with someone just because they happened to be born in the same city you used to live in? Why would you stay friends with someone just because they used to be your friend? That’s like staying with your boyfriend just because you were with him last year.
I came to a hard but freeing rule: I would only stay friends with people who push me to become a better version of myself. I would stay friends with those who share my values, interests and beliefs.
The others had to go–no matter how long we had been friends.
For the friends who were negative and unhealthy to be around, I slowly cut them out. Being around them made me unhappy and less of the person I want to be.
Today, I’m incredibly picky about who I put into my life–as you should be. I never jump lightly into a friendship or spending time with someone. Instead of staying friends with tons of different people who don’t always affect me in a great way, I decided to stay in touch only with some friends who push me to be a better me. I cut out the rest.
And I’ve been much happier and more successful ever since.
Real, natural friendships are formed based on shared values, mutual interests, and a common respect for a vision of the community you wish to build in your life. -Zak Slayback in a post called ‘Your high school friends died out? Rejoice!’