“It’s key to surround yourself with positive, helpful people. People who will propel you forward rather than pull you, or your ideas, back – fabulous, sharp minds who are creative but also savvy, who are dreamers and thinkers, but also doers, and who say “yes” more than they say “no; those who are brave and courageous.“
– Lisa Messenger in Daring & Disruptive
As I got off the London Underground at Earl’s Court I was a nervous mess, unsure if I was going to throw up with anxiety or fall to pieces. An hour later, as I exited the apartment, I felt an immense weight lift off my shoulders as I heard him storm to the door and lock it. That was okay as all my things, any trace of me, was now erased from his life. And I was happy about it.
I’d come to London to break up with my best friend.
To me, friendships aren’t simply the people you hang around with to fill in periods of time. Friends are people who excite, inspire and champion you; and you, in turn, them. They’re people who make you a better person, that you can talk to seriously or have a joke with, and most of all, they’re people who are loyal and honest. At the very least, this is the type of person I try to be to my friends.
I am extremely fortunate to have such a diverse, creative bunch of people I have the privilege of calling “friend”, but sometimes you misjudge a person and don’t realise it until you’re getting beaten down by them. Until you’re trying to be a better person and hoping that this too will pass.
Sometimes you need a good kick in the backside to walk out that door.
The person I leave behind is one of the most talented and intelligent people I know. He’s magnetic and a person you want to be around… only until you don’t.
He’s an ideas man, with new ideas that were presented to me once, twice, thrice per day. But he is a starving artist, unable to hold down a job and lacking the motivation to do anything to fix his own problems.
He was ‘the dropout King’ – every project we tried to collaborate on fell through because he wanted to lead but lacked discipline to do the work, instead wanting others to do the lion’s share and then, at the last-minute, he’d swoop in to take the credit.
We’ve travelled the world together, him and me. Through the UK, Denmark, Iceland, Canada, Spain, Australia, Turkey, Germany… the list goes on; but on every trip for the last two years I’ve always ended up on a bridge crying, him storming away after something that was taken out of context or some minor transgression being turned into a grenade.
You rest the blame for the explosions on your own shoulders, reason with yourself, “It’s my fault. I’ll do better tomorrow” and begin walking on eggshells around them in hope not to disturb the sleeping beast within. But it does come out. Sometimes you provoke it just to make sure they still know you’re there, to see if they even care.
That’s no life to live. Small and hiding in amongst the shadows.
Honesty is not your best friend. It’s the fire that gets you burnt in each and every conversation. When people have grown up in a world where they are accustomed to constantly flattery and receiving praise from others – an unfortunate trademark of my generation – it’s difficult to have a person come into your life and provide a dose of realness.
Perhaps, I have too much candor within me.
It was, of course, my honesty that set flame to the bridge, already wrought with holes from all the bullets that had flown in the past, set a light with alcohol and ending one Wednesday night.
The questions from our mutual friends that asked “how do you put up with him?” should have been my first reason to seriously consider why I was still there, holding fast amongst the turbulent storm that was our friendship and the subsequent berating from our friends telling me to put distance between us after I fell into a slump, dejected by not being able to help him nor get him to see why I was upset when I’m yelled at in the middle of my favourite London restaurant.
No person is worth remaining friends with if you constantly feel sad around them. When the request to, “please can you stop playing games on your iPhone. It’s my last day in London and I want to have a proper conversation” is followed with being yelled at and having to cover up the tears falling down your face.
The problem was, like any good relationship, the good times were great and our personalities, though opposite, easily fell in sync. We acted – and bickered – like an old married couple. I could see a future filled with travel adventures, even as far as seeing myself taking his (future) children to a playground or pranking their Dad (my friend) with them.
Part of me questions if my mind was filled with these thoughts because I missed the sweet boy that I met during my first week in London. The one who cooked me dinner and showed me his mineral collection, or took me in when things went wrong as I tried to build an expat life there. Not the monster who yelled at me because I wanted to relax and work instead of eating Turkish kebab for three meals a day when we travelled to Istanbul…
I don’t want to ever feel like I have the last three-year. To have my ideas, dreams and motivation crushed because I couldn’t meet another person’s impossible expectations or because they didn’t approve. Friends don’t do that to other friends.
I want to be a positive force in the world like I used to be and raise people up instead of feeling stuck under a dark cloud of sadness. To do that, sometimes you need to take out a little bit of trash and leave it there on the curbside.
I’m one who firmly believe that the company you keep is a reflection on who you want to be and what matters to you. My circle of friends may be small, but they are some of the best people. They’re doers, thinkers, and plan makers. They’re kindhearted, adventurers, who have a sprinkle of child-like glee and imagination that refuses to grow up.
They’re creative yet analytical, and they help fan the flames of passion. They’re people who question the world and why we do what we do; they’re my type of people.
If you have people like that – that raise you up and nurture the good in you – in your life, don’t let them go. If you have ones who make you question every move you make, every syllable that passes your lips, take this as the sign that it’s time to let them go. Don’t waste another minute on people who make you feel less than what you deserve. You are too good for that.
With that, I bid goodbye to London. I will be back one day, but it won’t be for a while. I need time to heal from the scorch marks, reassess the priorities and people in my life.
And to him, to reiterate the words said as I walked out the door: Have a nice life.