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Why I Decided To Only Spend My Time With The Right People

by Amani Onyango. |

Each new year brings new hopes and fears for everybody. We're already half way through of 2019 - some people anticipate new challenges, some people worry about staying stuck in the same place. For me, 2019 brought on a tough new academic challenge, but knowing that I’d be away from many of my friends, meant that fear dominated my field of vision. I told myself that I needed to find focus in order to achieve my goals and remember my why.

I wasn’t sure how I’d get through whatever unpleasantries 2019 had in store for me without the usual people I relied on.

Weirdly enough, not having ‘the usual people’ around turned out to be the biggest blessing in disguise. Circumstances forced me to adapt and reach out to old friends and extend a hand to some new ones, but I kept one thing in mind as I climbed each step: stick with the people that make you feel good and support you through it all. Instead of using my brain to figure out who I should spend time with, I started listening to my heart. I didn’t expect too many changes, but I ended up making some big ones naturally.

For a while, it felt almost cruel and selfish. I was distancing myself from people who had done nothing wrong, objectively speaking, and growing closer to others, guided only by the basest of feelings; gut instinct. When I felt comfortable in someone’s presence, I spoke to them more. When my gut pinged (and even if it was a slight tinge of weirdness), I pulled away.

The result? I had more emotional energy to spare for the friendships I was focusing on. Instead of spreading myself thin and maintaining connections I didn’t want to bother with, I found myself actually able to truly connect to the people I was keeping close. The sudden boost of energy in my life ended up giving me more confidence for work. I took small risks, academically and professionally, and came out better for it. I started believing in myself a lot more than I ever had in my life, simply because I’d changed who I spoke to on a daily basis.

Was that selfish? Depends on how you look at it. We’re raised to believe we should treat everyone well, that we should give more than we take, but there comes a time when you give too much, and you’re left running on empty without realising. Relationships are the same. The people you spend the most time around end up dictating how you feel, whether you know it or not, whether you like it or not. I was spending time with people who helped me coast along, but ultimately sapped most of my energy and left me too drained to stay positive for long. Now, I find myself remaining strong even in my low moments, because the people I keep close to me are motivating, positive, and constantly support and affirm me. The strength they give me lets me do the same for them in return without feeling like I’m totally exhausted every time I listen to someone’s problems.

Does this mean we should cut out anyone and everyone who we disagree with or feel even slightly weird around?

Of course not. We should always be open to different opinions, perspectives, and world views, especially if they help us become more understanding, more tolerant, and kinder to people around us. We need to take risks sometimes and jump into the unknown by befriending people we normally wouldn’t give a second look. Sometimes those friendships end up being the most rewarding, because they push you to grow in ways you never would’ve considered.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to let in every single person that seems to fit the criteria. What people say, how they feel, how they treat you and others will influence your moods, your views, and your life, because those are the energies you’re exposed to every day.

Be open to new experiences but spend more time with people who bring out the best in you. You’ll know who they are. It’s the ones you smile and laugh around easily. The ones that make you feel like you don’t have to put on a face. The ones you look forward to seeing, and feel sad about saying goodbye to. The good energy they give you isn’t just great for maintaining positive friendships, it’s also great for you as an individual. The strength you get from having a good team around you is more important than you think.

There are so many other aspects of our lives that sap us of energy and confidence everyday. Let’s not make the people around us be one of those things. If the people you’re currently spending time with make you feel worse than better, it might be time to reevaluate.

Be a little selfish. For your own good.

You may find out more about Amani on her Instagram too.

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