This was harder than I thought it would be to write. Writing something like this meant being more open than I’d like, and forcing myself to acknowledge something I’ve been trying to deny for a while now.
I had a big friend group for about two, three years. Majority of us were all in college, so we were apart most of the time. But whenever we were all in town, we were constantly together. We did shows together over the summer and hung out after almost every rehearsal. We’d have holiday parties, trips to Rita’s, and watch Fourth of July fireworks at one person’s house. It was great...until it wasn’t.
As time went on, I started picking up on things only two others were also seeing. What began as one group was forming subgroups that excluded certain people, primarily myself and my boyfriend, who was also a part of the group. There were more instances of people talking behind each other’s backs, going to everyone but the person they'd taken issue with rather than talk to that person directly until the person eventually was told the issue. I got put in the middle of two friends twice because one of the two couldn’t handle confrontation. In other words, the drama level skyrocketed and started causing big problems. This was around the time I began to realize that this group was no longer meant for me because the people had turned into toxic friends.
Do I know they're probably reading this now? For sure. I can already guess that they saw the title, wondered if I'd mention all the stuff that went down, and are probably going to gossip about it amongst themselves for about a week as old news gets drudged back up. Because that's who they are, and one of the reasons I left.
Walking away was not easy. I knew that once I did it, I'd be left with only four friends and it would be a huge change to my life socially. And I won't lie, it was really hard for a long while to adjust. Seeing what felt like everyone around me--my family, my friends, other people at college--have a social group and a busy social life felt like a constant reminder that I spent a majority of my time alone at home.
I longed for new friends, but had always struggled to make connections with people that lasted beyond the classroom. I spent quite a few therapy sessions talking with my psychologist about my ongoing social struggles and apparent inability to make friends. There were even moments that I slightly regretted my decision to leave my old group...well, until my boyfriend and best friend reminded me of the good reasons for why I did it (thanks, guys!).
It's been about four months. Yes, it still sucks to not have the big social circle I had grown accustomed to. But I learned that I was okay with having only a few friends for support. Losing my friend group made me grow closer to the few friends I had and strengthened those relationships. My connection with my best friend grew more solid, and I found that the relationship I had with her was the one I had needed from my ex-best friend but hadn't gotten.
Not having a friend group also helped me learn to start putting myself first. Because I wasn't worried about the needs of my friends within the group, about keeping up a persona so I’d fit in, I was able to better develop myself as a person. I started paying more attention to what makes me happy, and what I really need within a friendship.
So if you're like me and don't have a bigger friend group, please don't overstress about it. I thought I wanted a big friend group and learned the hard way that it wasn't the life for me. I know it can suck and make you feel all alone sometimes (or all the time, I won't lie), but it also isn't the end of the world. Having just a few close, 100% trustworthy friends is significantly better than having a larger group where you're only close with a few members.
Those few relationships will be stronger than the ones you might have within a group. You're also going to learn a lot about yourself from being more alone, and if/when you finally do find your group, you'll know exactly what people you need in your life. But for now, remember that you're not the only person out there dealing with this and that it's okay to not have a busy social life. One day, you might even look back and think, "I am so glad that I chose this path instead of the other one." And for my fellow strugglers, here's to it getting better one day.