My life partner and I moved out of the city five years ago. It's been a life changer for the both of us. Besides the reduction of the daily noise pollution and hustle/bustle from the city, we've also focused our network of friendships.
To give you some context, I used to be a social butterfly. If there was a group gathering, or party, I was always there. As long as I was invited, I'd be present. At the time, it felt like the more the merrier. My Facebook event invites always had over 50 people - no kidding.
Fast forward a few years to when we moved away from the city, the first thing I did after we settled in was host a BIG house warming party. I think we were close to 30 people. Needless to say, many of the "friends" I invited, flaked. Many replied "yes of course I'll be there", but cancelled last minute. Others just didn't even make the effort.
I was, unsurprisingly, disappointed. A lot of them were people that I considered as close friends. They were people I made an effort to show up for, even if it was just the once a year for their birthday.
However, this event got me reflecting on all the different people I included in these invites. Many of the people who didn't show up were those I spoke to maybe once a year. So, I started to really look at who I considered as my close friends. Who are the people I genuinely care about and want to spend selfless time with.
Honestly, there was only a handful.
By moving farther away, it was almost like it created an easy "filter" to identify the friends who:
a) are willing to travel farther to spend time with me
b) I am willing to travel farther to spend time with
I started to ask myself questions and almost analyzed my relationships to figure out what was worth my energy.
Does this person bring me joy?
Do I enjoy the time I spend with them, or am I constantly checking my watch?
Does this person make ME a better person?
Am I learning anything from this person?
Do I feel drained every time I spend time with this person?
What is this person TRULY contributing to my happiness and well-being?
In answering these, it became easy to let go of people who I just outgrew. We just weren't good fits for each other any more.
By letting go of these people, I was able to move on with the person that I want to be and let go of who I was. It's now an ongoing process where there are some friends who I used to be extremely close with that I've started to let go. Either because we just don't speak that often anymore or they don't seem to be putting in as much effort as I am, etc.
It used to make me sad to let these people go in my life. I've now come to appreciate that they've contributed what was necessary to me in my life, and I theirs. I can part ways from them without feeling remorse or regret. It has also allowed me more time and energy to spend with the people that I REALLY care about. I can now actually nurture those relationships and have deeper connections with those friends than ever before.
Letting go of people, or outgrowing a relationship is not something to be sad about. In fact, it often feels like a weight lifted. I am forever thankful for the people who have come and gone in my life. They've helped shape who I am today and teach me about who I want to be.