7 May 2021

Growing Pains: Setting Boundaries


As life almost feels entirely back to normal and I quite openly don't feel ready to vacate the comfort of my own home, I realise more so than ever the importance of saying no.


Regardless of past circumstances or traumatic events that have led me to where I am now, I'm here, and my boundaries are set. They've changed ever so slightly within the past year, they're more concrete now. Less broad and more defined. I thank recent discussions amongst several friends for this, making me question my relationships and re-establish who's really looking out for me. And, more importantly, who I want to continue sharing my life with moving forward. 


Some friends of mine are more than the nights out we've shared and the laughs we've had. They're family. We've lived together and care deeply about our loved ones, having invested interest in each other's lives. Some aren't so deep and rely entirely on a mutual love for good coffee and brunch. Some are old colleagues, where the nostalgia of hearing each other's voice and venting about work drama past or present is real. Some are friends I've never met, but discovered through blogging and feel know me more than anyone currently.  And, some are old school friends, where common interests are few and far between these days.


No matter how I've come to know and love the people in my life, all I ask for is open communication and understanding. Leading me to how I'm feeling tonight. I'm not sad, or mad. I feel like I've got clarity now. Confirmation that my feelings are valid. 


I want the people in my life to be accepting of my good and bad. I'll do just the same for them. Not much to ask. Yet, recently I've found some relationships more problematic than others, prompting them to ask the questions what about me? Or, why haven't you made time for me? - my reply will always be honest, but occasionally adding flourishes to make me feel like a less crappy friend for having mental health struggles. Struggles that sometimes appear like excuses and mean I cancel plans last minute.  I'm realising now however, that I don't need to apologise for dipping out last minute, or even days in advance. You shouldn't either. What I'm trying to say is that if someone challenges your mental health in such a way that questions your loyalty to them, they aren't your friend. Maybe they were, but not any more. Maybe it's time you stepped back and set some new boundaries too. 


Friends and readers, I'm talking to you all here. Do what makes you feel happy, comfortable, at ease. Say no to just about anything that makes you feel ashamed, guilty or unnecessarily upset. But, also don't be judgemental to your other loved ones either. Just step back, try to be a good friend, think about whether what you're communicating is beneficial and, re-evaluate your mood if you're doing more harm than good.


Here's how I'm shifting my mindset to make sure I can protect my sanity, share my life and prioritise my wellbeing...


I've always considered myself a reliable friend. Someone who will pick up the phone in an instant but, I'm giving myself permission now to be a flake. I don't want to be available 24/7 because I'm not. I don't want to be busy, I don't desire constant communication with my friends and, I don't expect it either. I want to enjoy my days, live quietly and worry less about how I'm being perceived. I don't want to be the friend who tells white lies when they don't feel like hanging out. I want to be the friend now who quite openly says I would prefer not to without having to apologise or justify deciding to spend my evening playing Harry Potter Lego on Switch. But, I also think it's about balance. I don't want to be the friend who takes a week to reply either. I don't want to be the friend who falls off of social media entirely and is completely unreliable. I want to be here when you need me, but not always when you want me. That's it. It's a good place to be. So, hop on board. Allow me freedom without burden and we're good to go!


I think a lot of us are in a similar place right now. Maybe it's a late twenties' thing. Clinging onto old school friends when the relationship has been dying out for some time now. And, maybe lockdown made us feel more inclined to communicate with some more than others. You know what though, it's okay. Letting go is part of growing older and, I don't feel hurt or malice towards anyone who might be subconsciously erasing me from their circle. Or actively doing it for that matter. Some relationships are built to last, some are just a chapter and some, a blip. 


I'm learning to feel less frustration and to just let go. 


I hope if you're in a similar headspace you're able to see the opportunity to create different rules and move out of this weird lockdown era with new walls up or, even some taken down. It's healthy, part of growing older and, something perfectly okay to feel a little confused about too fyi. I did very briefly albeit, until today realistically when I opened up to my bestie, laughed a lot and thought to myself, this is the kind of friendship I want to hold tightly onto. Because, if I say no to them or explain that I'm not okay, the response will always be filled with support, never displeasure. 


It's become abundantly clear to me now that the choices I've been trying to step into recently are valid. Growing pains feel good.


I'll continue to love the friends who love me and show it.

9 comments

  1. I can relate so much to this! I had been clinging on friendships that were almost non existent and one sided one for so long, and in the last few years I realised i didn't need it. I still consider friends people that I don't hear from often but we are always there for each other when needed than someone that I see everyday but doesn't care. it takes a lot to learn to let go, but it's truly freeing! Thanks for sharing x

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    1. I'm so pleased to know I'm not alone. I was a little anxious publishing this but I'm so glad I did! For a short period of time I felt blue knowing some friendships and gone their natural course, but I think it's part of growing older. Our values, beliefs and lifestyles change, meaning that we can't always take all of our friendships with us. It's just a fact and something I'm beginning to actually feel good about. It's a nice place to reach x

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  2. Letting go of non existent friendships is sometimes needed, it may not be something that we want to do, but for the sake of our wellbeing, it's important to do so x

    Lucy | www.lucymary.co.uk

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    1. Agreed. It's not an easy process but sometimes things just run their course and ultimately, if a relationship doesn't serve you, it's time to move on x

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  3. Ah I can definitely relate. I'm the kind of friend who's always there when you need them, but I'm not great at keeping small talk/ day to day conversation going so sometimes I wonder if things are fizzling or I just need to make more of an effort to communicate. Lockdown has definitely been a big time to consider those relationships! I'm definitely not ready to step out into the world though so I'll happily be a social flake for a while too. You need to do what feels right for you x

    Sophie
    https://www.glowsteady.co.uk

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    1. Agreed. I can chat for England in person but small talk over messages is not my thing to be honest. That's something I think I've personally struggled a lot with during lockdown. It's really tested my relationships and ultimately led me to where I am now, being able to let go of friendships that weren't built to last and connecting more deeply with others I love x

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  4. Boundaries have been on my mind a good deal for the past few weeks. I've been the person to carry several relationships. Now I'm allowing them to fade into the sunset.

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  5. "Clinging onto old school friends when the relationship has been dying out for some time now." I'm literally going through this right now. The pandemic has furthered the distance between my close friend and I and it's taking me over a year to accept that it's alright and that we're very different people now. Some friendships don't last even when we want them to.

    We should learn to set boundaries and not try too hard for something that doesn't fit us anymore.

    This is a lovely post, and one I needed now.

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    1. It's good to know you're not alone right? It's a tough spot to be in but, lockdown has made us all re-evaluate I think. It's weird to not feel sad but also so so uplifting, knowing that you're coming out of lockdown with better relationships than ever, some brand new x

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