AUGUST 2018: Success and Loneliness
This month I’ve been feeling the saying “success is lonely” really heavy. I haven’t reached the full expression of what success looks like to me yet, but in going after what I want as hard and as unapologetically as I have been I can’t help but feel sad when I look up and don’t see the friends I once considered family by my side.
August was a special month for me. This month I witnessed a full year worth of work manifested in amazing opportunities that validated for me that I am worthy and capable of the things that I want. I stepped out of my comfort zone and attended events hosted by other female creatives, I taught yoga classes both in studios and independently, I had a reading where I shared the stage with a poet whose work I have admired for years, I secured a big commission for design work, and I got accepted into an editorial fellowship. Despite all of these opportunities, conveniently spread out amongst 30 days, I can count on one hand the friends who showed up to any of these things with me or for me.
When I think about how ruthless I am when showing up for others, it’s hard for me to be unbothered by the void of old friendships that no longer hold the same space in my life as they once did. I’ll admit that my financial situation has stopped me from being there for my friends as much as I have always been. As an entrepreneur just starting to set my own foundation, I’m always needing to negotiate with myself what I can and can’t afford to spend money on. More often than not I can’t make it out for friends’ birthdays, get nice wedding gifts, meet the girls for drinks and dinner, take a trip with the group chat out of state, literally the list goes on and on. These have been my sacrifices.
Despite such things being outside of my control, not seeing my friends come out and support all the things I’ve been working hard for has left me with a guilty and bitter taste. It has left me wondering what did I do wrong. My mind keeps jumping to memories of simpler times of me with my friends on weekends -- drunk, high, and in utter happiness. I have made peace with all the friendships I have lost in the past year, but I think all the events I was a part of this month made me realize how few “real friends” I have left.
At one of my yoga events, I was talking to a girl who met a women’s networking dinner who showed up to support me. Her response to my mixed feelings was so practical and she was nearly emotionalness. She told me “I’ve experienced the same. You’re on a different type of time when you’re about your shit… besides friends are always conditional. They always switch up. I like being alone. I have God and I’m not stressed.” I get her and although I’m not religious like that, despite loving my alone time I don’t like feeling friendless.
One would think that money shouldn’t change friendships, but it does. There are only so many times you can tell your friends who you're used to casually blowing $100 on dinners that you don’t have enough for transportation and happy hour before they start to seek the company of others who can keep up. It hurts when friends who you once went as far as to consider family can't understand the pressures you’re under nor take the time to meet you where you’re at. This is the disappointment I’ve been grappling with.
Two weeks ago I tweeted “I wanna write something on how financial hardships affect the psyche, strain social relationships, and create a new survival persona.” I don’t think my friends get that it’s hard saying “no” when they invite me places and I can’t go. It’s not easy to have to say “I need to work” or straight up “I don’t have the extra cash flow to spend on drinks.” Just because I have had months of practice in saying no it doesn't mean it comes easy. It’s nothing more than practical decision making. I can blow $150 tonight or save that for mentorship or new equipment. Despite it all, the FOMO is still real. On the flip side, it’s been so beautiful to grow with the friends who step up and prove with their actions just how deep with love for you truly is — money and everything else aside.
I look back at all the “real” friends I had a year ago and am beyond disappointment at how conditional friendships can be. Real friends as long as I have the money; real friends as long as I stay high all day; real friends as long as I was hungover with them at 11AM. In the same breath, I’ve been confused about how much of the pushing away was my part because of needing to hyper-focus on staying sane? How much of it was organic outgrowing of once similar interests? How much was it my friends getting tired of me always being busy or unable to show up when invited? I think the answer is that it was all of this but in varying degrees of influence. But in any formula there is always a constant. In this scenario, I feel that the constant is that real friends will always reach out.
Present day mental battles and unprocessed emotions within oneself often causes us to freeze and withdraw in silence. I know this because it is how I deal with my anxiety and depression. There is a quote that goes something like “the beautiful thing about going missing is realizing who cares enough to find you.” I can’t believe I have spent so much time hating myself for not being in the best mental headspace, struggling financially, and working 25/8 to get the recognition I deserve and at the sam etime feeling guilty for not being sane enough for everyone’s comfortability.
Yes, I have been hard on myself in overthinking ALL of this when the facts are very visible given people’s actions. It sucks to feel given up on and I very much feel a lot of my friends have given up on me. I keep saying to myself, I can’t wait until I’m at a good place again to be out on weekends. But in retrospect, it’s like if I was doing that on weekends with people who at my worst couldn’t check in then why even want to be in that place again. This is me venting and I don’t really have an answer for myself. Today someone told me that it could be that me leveling up to reach my dreams is naturally making me outgrow certain friendships. I really don’t know. I just know this lonely feeling hurts.