Do you remember when you were a kid, and sometimes your legs, back, or arms hurt for no reason? “Growing Pains” was the conventional excuse, and even though we look back now and are thankful that we are taller than an 8 year old, at the time it seemed like the most irritating thing in the world to have this discomfort that we could do nothing about.
I feel like I’ve been having some growing pains lately. I left for nearly the entire summer, and it feels like things are not the same with certain people in my life now that I’ve come back. Other bonds have been made, and it seems as though my importance to some around me has dwindled.
Of course, this could be completely in my head and I could just be paranoid and feeling insecure. However, I usually have pretty good intuition when it comes to feeling things out with other people, and I can usually tell if a connection is there or not there, especially if it was previously stronger.
This brings about the question of WHY. Why would previously strong connections be dwindling? How could only three weeks apart dismantle previously solid relationships?
In my opinion, if the relationship is solid, time apart doesn’t matter (as long as it’s not years and years with no quality communication). My best friend lives on the opposite coast, and it is my most valuable relationship and one that I know I can count on 110%.
So, if the three weeks (or 3 months, or nine months) doesn’t matter, what gives?
If you are in any way involved in the self-improvement or success or entrepreneurial spaces, you have no doubt heard that the more you improve or change, the more people will start to drift away from you. Not because they want you to be unsuccessful (although secretly I’m sure that’s the case for some people), but because they simply don’t vibe with you anymore. More accurately, you don’t vibe with them.
This obviously sucks. We are social creatures with a strong inner desire to ‘fit in’ and to have a tribe surrounding us. SO much of our energy is spent trying to get others to like us; simply think of a stereotypical high school scenario. In high school, however, we usually don’t hold the knowledge that just because a certain group is popular, doesn’t mean that they are the best group for us.
Sometimes, we can fall back on this mentality as adults as well. If we are used to hanging out with certain people just because they are convenient or because they have always been in our lives, it can be extremely difficult to admit that ‘you know what? I actually hate spending my Saturdays at sports games.’ And freely gravitate towards a knitting club that is much closer to your own personal interests and personality.
Once we stop focusing on the PERSON and how long or how much they have been in our lives, we can start to focus on the VIBE. Maybe that person you just met loves writing songs, and you’ve quietly held a passion for jamming and creating musical magic together without acting on it because none of your other friends like the same-why wouldn’t you dedicate more of your time to that person who helps bring out the best in you??
This doesn’t mean we can forget a key factor: if you are focusing on VIBE, you have to BRING that vibe in order for things to move forward. I have always admired athletic people, but I simply cannot bring a supreme athletic ability to the field; I wasn’t brought up playing sports, and I never developed the skills necessary in order to be a good overall athlete. This doesn’t mean that I can’t play with people who also like to play for fun, but I most likely won’t be spending time on the court with people who are serious competitors.
However, if I practice my ass off and continually get better and better, it’s more than likely that I will evolve from playing with the little leagues to competing with those who are more serious.
Sometimes, you realize the kind of tribe you want and put in the work to get to that level. And sometimes, you don’t even realize how much you are changing until your group starts to drift away from you.
Losing connections always sucks, even if you know it’s for the best. And many times the connections, if they are not toxic, are never lost entirely, but simply weakened to one degree or another.
If you feel that you are on the brink of being between tribes, stop and really think about where you want to be before blindly grabbing back on to the tribe you once had. At times, it’s you who have DEvolved, and you may have to get yourself back on track to be worthy of said past tribe. However, and most likely if you’ve been truly working on yourself, it may be that going back to your old tribe won’t serve your goals, and may in fact slow you down or stop you altogether.
Your connections in life are precious; the people around you, if they are the right people, will lift you up, propel you forward, and help you open doors that you never would have imagined. There is absolutely no way that anyone can have a fulfilling life on their own.
Most people subconsciously know this. However, they can also use that as an excuse to cling to relationships that have stopped being productive for them, thinking that it is better to have the wrong people than to be alone. What they don’t realize is, the people you are going to meet after you’ve shed the filters on your authentic self will be a LOT better for you than the people you will leave behind.
Don’t fear change. Change means that you are evolving as a person and growing into your own. Don’t shortchange yourself by clinging to what already was. Instead, bravely release your hold on the old and keep your hands open to embrace the new. If you’re doing it right, the new will ALWAYS come, and you will look back on those painful separations the same way we look back on growing pains: briefly, or not at all.