Here’s my situation: my life is pretty awesome right now. After years of hard work, some luck, and a good attitude, things are falling together. The problem is that most other people in my life (like, actually, the majority) are going through a much harder time: break ups, quarter/mid-life crises, hating their jobs…you name it. Some are completely valid! Others, less so. Regardless, it’s really starting to get draining. Sometimes, I’m totally capable of letting a friend vent and not letting it affect me; I’m even happy to help out. Occasionally, though, I just want to enjoy the life I’ve built for myself and not spend 3/4 of my free time playing shrink.
What’s the line? These aren’t people I can “cut out.” How do I say, “When I see your name on the caller ID, I have to stop to evaluate whether or not I can handle you right now?”
Not to brag, but I have a bunch of friends. Some of these friends are of the variety that I don’t see them for 15 years and within thirty seconds of seeing them again, I’m wondering why I haven’t figured out a way to eschew the male sex entirely and taken up as life partners with this amazing woman who is clearly my soul mate. Other friends call thirty times a day with disastrous news about that suspicious mole they’ve been worried about, the fact that they accidentally bought a Luis Vuitton bag instead of paying the mortgage, and their stinky ex-husband who took up with an 18-year-old stripper named Destiny who lives three houses away and has a pole installed on her front porch and taunts them day and night with her flexible-yet-skanky routines. I like all of these people, which is why I still call them my friends. It can be a hassle, but sometimes, they’re worth it.
I like to see friendship not necessarily as a two-way street. Let’s, instead, see it as a long, winding, endless road, which is sometimes a one-way, sometimes an eight-lane highway, and can also be anything in between. It doesn’t matter what kind of road it is, as long as it gets you to where you’re going, right? So if the waa waa about the break-up or the endless fretting about job security is all you get out of the friendship, it’s not getting you where you want to go. If there are times when these annoying friends are also amazingly there for you, bringing you soup when you’re sick or sending you a postcard from vacation of three buff men in Speedo thongs that says, “Just hanging out in Bermuda!” on it, then they’re keepers. If you add up all the positives and negatives and still come out on the plus side, then you’re still on the good side of the line, and just assume that it’s your turn to be the supportive person. If it’s all negative all the time, then maybe you don’t have to break up with these people…just answer one out of every three calls, and slowly phase them out if they’re too much of a drag. Sometimes, friendship just runs its course.
I sort of think, too, that you’re getting something out of it. Maybe you like to be needed, and being friends with these Debbie Downers gives you a mission. Maybe you used to be a whiny mess, too, but now that you’re graduating from medical school and your credit score is in the 800s, you like having some messed-up people to compare yourself to. I don’t know…and I don’t want to be mean…I’m just saying…
Congratulations on getting your shit together. Maybe you can be an inspiration to all your friends who are still limping along.