Success & Friendship: When You’ve Changed, but Your Friends Haven’t
If you aren’t losing friends, what are you doing? Really. Personal growth means your shape will become different, you won’t always fit into the same clothes as your body grows, and your character won’t always fit the same friends as your mind, heart and spirit develop. The trouble with outgrowing friends (or a whole friend group) is the emotional ties. Breaking up with a friend can make us feel guilty, and losing us as a comrade can turn even the best of friends toxic. I have had an experience like this that I have learned from. I’m here to offer this advice and support on your new path.
If you ever feel bad for moving on from a relationship, recall this familiar story: someone goes travelling, has a life-changing experience, and comes back a different (better) person – as a result, some of their friends don’t get them anymore. Maybe their friends don’t even like them anymore. Maybe their friends’ envy turns to jealousy, their competitiveness turns to insults or sabotage, and the relationships turn toxic. Did the traveller do anything wrong? No. Theirs is a symptom of growth, big development, and the negative response from people left behind is a toxic friendship that needs to end.
A Guide to Success & Friendship: Personal Growth and Friend Groups
You are supposed to grow and develop, some of your friends will grow and develop in different ways. It isn’t an option. You can’t choose whether you will grow, you can only control where your new roots and branches are headed. Even the bad friends who don’t seem to grow at all are indeed developing, they’re just not developing in a way that’s acceptable to you.
This is the golden rule of life: you are only in control of you and you only have the power to judge people in terms of being a. “OK with Me” or b. “Not OK with Me”. When you are improving yourself and your life, you will have to move on from toxic friend groups. It’s not because they’re “bad” they’re just “bad for you” and that is absolutely in your power to judge. I’ll be showing you some examples of jealousy and how to deal with competitive friends. So judge away.
Good Friends, Bad Friends and How to Move On: My Story
What if you still like your friends very much but you just don’t fit in anymore? You’ve gone through a big shift, you’re changing, and you get this funny feeling that your friends aren’t really on your team anymore… What do you do when your friends don’t seem to like you? This is a tough situation to be found in. One I’ve learned harshly about over the past year (written in 2017).
Competitive Friends: How to Deal with Jealous People & Rejection
In university, I was a student’s student. A Professor’s student. An academic in the making. A Students’-Union-Working, Academic-Conference-Coordinating, Senate-Sitting, Peer-Reviewed-Published, Provincial-Political-Conference-Selected, active, engaged member of the student body on her way to Graduate studies… I was in the big leagues. I naturally had competitive friends who were in my league slaying similar goals too. Around graduation everything changed for me. I didn’t want to be told what to do anymore or hemmed in by the institution. I wanted to create. I pivoted on a dime and changed course dramatically.
I derailed my graduate school applications by unleashing my real strengths. I completely altered my scholarship proposals to topics I felt were meaningful (because the approved ones all of a sudden seemed trite). I tried to shape my future in a way I could be proud of. I tried to own it, and do something Great, unique, and so totally needed by the world. I tried to shine. Can you guess what happened? I got rejected.
A graduate program who’d fawned over me when I played by the rules, saying explicitly that I was “the perfect candidate”, conveniently lost my scholarship application and was so incredibly rude to me about their mix up that the advisor insulted me in response! “We can’t accept everyone, you know.” She belittled me, a graduate candidate in first-class standing, to the level of commonality. It was a psychologically ratified sign of jealousy. It was the first relationship of mine that turned toxic by my sudden shift to desiring what I’d call an authentically engaged and meaningful existence. I was about to find out that living your dreams makes some people bitter and spite you.
Instead of politely refusing a bright student (who was promised the world by her prestigious institution), envy and jealousy influenced her competitive nature to use her authority to make me feel like a loser.
I was anything but a loser. But she was probably just like me at some point, and she probably didn’t choose to live. She probably chose to stay with the crowd. I was in the process of breaking free — she hadn’t. And she was in a position now to become a toxic influence to those whose very presence challenged that decision of hers. I probably embodied ideas that threatened her very much. At the time she made me feel absolutely horrible. It was like reality had all of a sudden shifted and the place I had belonged in was spitting me out. I still get chills thinking about it. I couldn’t let her stop me though, because I knew I was right.
“The greatest prison people live in is the fear of what other people will think” David Icke (conspiracy theorist, but definitely ‘doing him’)
Little did I know, but this was only the beginning of friendships ending. Some of my competitive friends were about to follow suit becoming totally toxic people.
Signs of Envious Friends: How to End a Toxic Friendship
My changing attitude towards the institution of academia alienated me from many of my very close peers. Many of my close comrades, who stuck by me through the intense pressures of high academic achievement, became covertly unaccepting of my choices. As I got freer and more self-assured, some of my closest friends became increasingly bitter and even… sabotaging towards me and my goals. In the months that followed, I lost many of them on the path to my own authenticity (and success), and I very reluctantly let them go. In fact, at certain intervals I tried to get back with them! I missed them very much. The harsh truth was: I honestly didn’t fit in to their world anymore.
Although we may have loved each other very much in the past, the truth was, as I grew into the person I love — my friends didn’t like me anymore.
“If everybody loves you, something is wrong.” –Paulo Coehlo
Less than a year later, I could say honestly that I literally could not be more grateful for those rejections. I didn’t belong. I was better (by my own standards). I knew it — and my personal growth ironically resulted in rejection. The truth is: being your authentic self means people often won’t like you — even if they’d loved you previously — but this says absolutely nothing about your value.
How to Break Up with a Friend and Attract New Good Friends
It seemed like a curse when it was all happening, in reality it was a blessing. It was lonely. If you’re there, don’t worry, read on and see that you’ll make more friends. What’s more, they’re going to be on your new wavelength. People who thank you for growing with them, appreciate the real you, and are inspired by you rising to meet challenges, are good friends. These are the kinds friends we keep.
I have quite a few incredible friends from these days who I have so much respect for. Even though we are on completely different paths, we love and respect and are enamoured by each others’ successes. There are awesome humans who will stay through your personal development. You’ll all grow closer, because of it. You’ll love them even more for it — even if they aren’t your friends at present — some people will decide you’re worth the fight.
Tips to Remember: End Toxic Relationships and Grow Healthy Ones in their Place
1 A Toxic Relationship is not Your Fault.
It’s their fault. Maybe it’s your fault for choosing them, maybe you were in some sort of unhealthy pattern where you attracted them, but if you are leaving it’s not your fault anymore — you’re ready to make a change and they are not. When I asked for miniscule support with my start-up business, some friends already found my barely existent business threatening, and I thought “What are they going to be like when you’re a mogul!?” That shit was not my fault.
Expecting support is not too much to ask. If you ask for something that means little to them and the world to you, but they can’t give it — that shitty relationship is not your fault. And you can’t fix it. Get up, get gone, and find some people you actually connect with because:
2 Bad Friends are in Your Way.
Our identity is wrapped up with our friends. One thing which separated the people who DID support me from the ones who didn’t was that those people were going places! Real high achievers are not threatened by success (and especially not of having the goal of budding success). People who will happily offer their support are rungs on a ladder their inner circle can use to climb. Your inner circle is literally the measure of how far you can go. The people who don’t support you are not just missing rungs on a ladder — they’re pitfalls waiting to trip you up.Those people are the places you stumble.
Get rid of the people who say “I’m here for you, step down!” and then, they whip their support back, leaving nothing underneath your feet. By being in your life and having the illusion they got your back, they’re actually sabotaging your happiness and your success.
3 Your Energy (and Friendship) is Sacred.
This is a finite universe. All the energy that was created during the big bang is expanding and morphing but the energy remains the same: the same amount, the same constituents. Let’s say you have 100 units of energy everyday. Your work that day takes 50 because you’re passionate, your social life takes 10 because you don’t have a tonne of time, your basic upkeep takes 20, working out takes 10 & you have 10 free for whatevs. Where will you spend it? On someone who might reciprocate or waste it?
In friendship, you’re constantly exchanging energy. We all know what a good friend does for us, right? They’re 10 points very well spent. Energy spent on good friends is an investment. Spending energy on a bad friend is a waste or worse. Friends are here to benefit us. We’re supposed to be better together.
4 Life is Short.
We have to live this moment for all that it’s worth. There’s no time to waste making justifications for crappy behaviour that makes us feel bad. It’s too short to make serious sacrifices without cause.
Real friends are bringing something to the table of life. That’s right:
5 Toxic People aren’t Your Friends.
I want to be so clear here: friends don’t find the nearest exit when things get difficult. They don’t insult you when you’re inspired. That’s a toxic response. People are rough around the edges, for sure. There are no perfect people. Jealousy and envy are natural too. It’s how people react and deal with their own imperfections that speaks to their ability to be a partner in the growth of life with you. Challenging situations will call on us and our relationships will face many obstacles. Criticism can sometimes be a blessing and a sign that someone really cares about you. What differentiates a growth challenge from a toxic situation is whether or not it’s pushing you to become a better version of yourself. Is what they want from you closer to what you want from yourself? If not, run, they aren’t your friend. They don’t even like you.
If they aren’t fighting for you, they’re fighting against you because relationships are too intertwined to be neutral. If they’re not on your side, whose bloody side are they on? Not yours, so move on.
6 You’ll have a Clearer Road Ahead to Create the Life and Community You Deserve!
The changes you’re making are good and they will necessarily bring about good things! Remember the finite energy clause I mentioned in 3? If you save some energy by cutting out crappy investments, it makes room to spend more energy on good investments! Whatever your goals are, you’ll have more energy to spend on them!
Good friends and community that support the real you will totally come from the actions you are taking! It’s like saving money you had previously spent on self-destruction and getting a yoga pass at a studio filled with awesome people instead!
Succeeding in Life, Friendship & Love
I started on my own path… and to begin was the hardest thing I’d ever done. I am so glad now, every single day, that I did. I was chasing this enormous dream and so many people just didn’t get it — and some outright disliked it. I found that, in chasing my dreams — in trying to be myself — I lost many of my friends’ interest and gained many of my friends’ jealousy. I lost many of them and it was lonely.
It was really hard to bear at first: losing the identity school gave me, losing the societal support I had, and having to really go it on my own. Breaking up with friends was arguably the hardest, but it also set me free. I started meeting new people. I started reconnecting with old friends. I started succeeding in my goals. I met the partner of my dreams and I started living the life I’d always wanted to lead.
If Your Friends are Jealous, Maybe They Should Be!
My words, thoughts and research has now been read by more people than that graduate studies advisor (who insulted my worth and value) could hope for her work to reach. The very first blog post I ever shared was read exponentially more times than my first peer-reviewed academic publication, my first provincial conference presented project and my award nominated paper COMBINED. maybe my friends had every right to be jealous. I was doing something incredible in this change — I had the potential to achieve something far greater than I’d ever dreamt of in academia. I had everything I needed to dream big, make a massive impact and go all out for a life I’d be truly proud of! Maybe some bad friends had every reason to be jealous! I’m sure they won’t be the last. People will be jealous and, hey, that’s OK. Anyone who is jealous of my success can eat their hearts out!
If you’re making progress, change will occur. If the changes are coming from positive shifts, don’t worry yourself to death (like me) about hurting people or being a bad person for leaving: awesomeness will come to those who wish it. There is no apology needed in doing that.
May the force be with you! Take care of you, first, everything else will fall into place. Peace and so much, LL