You know that episode in Rick and Morty where they land on a planet that every year, only for one night, has a ‘purge’? In case you don’t know what I’m talking about — Rick and Morty teleport to a planet where people are allowed to commit anycrimes, including murder for one night only — thus, purging the planet.
As morbid as it may sound, my life and the relationship I have with people, is much like this episode. So every year, I perform a ‘purge’. As I effectively grow ‘older’, I tend to distance myself from the people who have had or have a negative effect on my life in any way. It’s not something I do out of spite, it’s merely accepting change and the need to move forward without having any sentiments that hold me back. I’ve always believed that if someone doesn’t add any value to your life, you’re better off without them.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s great to have a lot of friends. But somehow, with time, as the tower clock of adulthood chimes furiously, you begin realising that not everyone is your friend. Suddenly, you have nothing in common with that person you’ve known since you were 13; their ideologies and outlook on life seem completely unrelatable and the only thing tying you together are adolescent memories. Sooner or later, you will be met with a moment where you either fight to stay friends or you simply let go. Most of the time, the latter does more good to the both of you. It’s not a decision you have to feel bad about, it’s just a different chapter in your life and you move on.
On the other end of the spectrum, are people you know will always be a part of anything and everything you do. They’re like the Turritopsis Dohrnii — the species of immortal jellyfish that don’t die and can magically induce a regeneration process even upon injury. Most of us are lucky enough to have a handful of these. These are the ones who make up for every friend you lose over time. They aren’t manifestations of a phase; they, are the real prize.
So, what has having fewer friends taught me?

I learned how to be more emotionally independent
Sure, you’ve always been independent in the literal sense of the term but we often rely on other people to carry us emotionally through a crisis or be our gossip trampoline and bounce back more aggressive and hateful after hours of ranting. When you trust yourself to solve your own problems, not only do you get good at it but also begin developing a thicker skin as time goes by. The support those few friends provide you with, is an additional bonus — it becomes more of a dialogue and a way to figure out the solution to your problems rather than mindless venting.

It made me realise how good it is for my mental health
Having fewer friends made me realise how much easier it is to be myself. I don’t have to adapt to them or put myself in situations I really don’t want to be in.

It made me really value the few friends I have
I don’t have to make excuses to not be a part of plans anymore because the only people I meet, are the ones I actually do want to spend time with!

It becomes easier to trust people
When you have fewer friends who have been part of myriad life changing experiences, you begin trusting them innately and you never have to worry about them ever hurting you.

It saves me from obligated small talk and focus more on deeper, meaningful conversations
If like me, you’re an introvert who also suffers from anxiety, then you know how dreadful forced conversations can be. The minute I spot an acquaintance in a public gathering, sirens wreak havoc inside my head and in the event that I can’t slink away unnoticed, a quick smile with a “Hey, how are you?” is the most I can bring myself to say. Surrounding myself with people I love having conversations with, makes me feel productive, inspired, and happy instead of anxious and drained.

Fewer friends does not mean that I stop meeting new people
In spite of being introverted, I love meeting new people. It’s the only way you can grow and absorb all the wonderful experiences everyone has to offer. So I’d rather let go of those who I’m better off without and make space for those who enrich my life!

It helped me separate the friends, from the acquaintances
This is something that took me a while to comprehend. I didn’t always segregate the people I know. To me, pretty much anyone I knew fairly well or had history with, was a friend. Thinking about it made me realise that many people I know are actually, just acquaintances! Now, my energy and the space in my mind is primarily reserved to invest in people who really matter and care about me.
To surround yourself with people who uplift you rather than bring you down, you can perform The Vampire Test — an effective way to find out which people you should keep in your life.

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By Michelle Varghese

Having fewer friends will make you realise how much easier it is to be yourself.

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