There’s something to be said about the simplicity of friendship groups when we were at school.
Sure, there was angst, falling out over seemingly small things, but in essence, the dynamics were pretty straight forward. Everyone was in the same place, at the same stage, and moving forward together to face upcoming milestones.
Fast forward to when jobs, careers and families get into the mix, and the whole thing becomes a damn mess. Why? Because the playing field begins to look a little less even. Or rather, individual paths can vary so much that the perception is that it’s uneven. Either way, this is when it’s more important than ever to handle your relationships with care. Here’s how to stop success from destroying your friendships…
A friendship group is a team like any other; with each member striving for their own success whilst also cheering on their squad. But though you’re on the same team, not everyone’s game will be at the same level. Some may hit certain milestones earlier than others. Some may falter whilst others soar.But all successes and failures have an impact on the group. So what’s the best way to handle it? Well that can differ from group to group. But the key thing is to make sure you’re willing to see things from a perspective that is different from your own.
Nobody will deny that it feels damn good to win. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of seeing years of hard work pay off, and that glory should be basked in as much as possible. When this happens within the context of career, it’s not uncommon for it to have an impact on friendship groups.
In an ideal situation, everyone would be where they want to be, in a job they are passionate about (or at least, a job they don’t hate with the fire of a thousand suns) and be ready to celebrate with you. But in reality, this isn’t always the case.
This isn’t about dimming your own success so that others don’t feel bad about their lives. No good friend should even expect that of you. But it is about being mindful about how things might change and acknowledging that others may face restrictions that you don’t.
For example, you’ve started your own thriving business and loving the fact that you’re now your own boss. Your flexibility and availability may be different to that of your friends. You might even have some extra cash at your disposal as a result. If you’re in a tight knit group, doing things together will be the norm, and it’s at this point you have to think about finding a middle ground.
An episode of Friends does a good job of touching upon this.
There’s an elaborate plan to celebrate Ross’s birthday, and Rachel, Phoebe and Joey talk amongst themselves about not being able to afford it comfortably. Then things come to a head during a dinner to celebrate Monica’s recent promotion. The trio order small, inexpensive dishes, but are annoyed when it comes to splitting the bill evenly, as the amount is outside of their budget. Now, given that Rachel worked as a waitress, Joey was a jobbing actor and Phoebe a part time masseuse, the rest of the group could have been more perceptive about what they may have been able to manage financially.
Did they need to know the exact balance of their friend’s bank accounts? No. But it’s about putting yourself in the other person’s place, which shouldn’t be hard if you were once there.
When you haven’t quite ‘made it’… Yet!
It’s hard not to look upon others and make life comparisons. Let’s be honest, it’s why social media was invented.
When you’re not quite where you want to be, it takes much effort not to feel like shit if it seems like you’re being left behind. When you witness progress amongst your friends, it can bring up all kinds of different emotions. On the one hand, you’re happy for them. How could you not be? You’ve been by their side as they have worked their arse off, and you know it’s no more than they deserve. But on the other hand, you’re frustrated. You don’t resent them for their success, but you kinda wish it was you. You’re not an android. Emotions are a human response and help us work through things.
But don’t be a dick. That’s your friend, who would probably share their success with you in the most literal sense if they could. Don’t let your dissatisfaction with your own life radiate from you so hard that they feel guilty even sharing good news with you. Clap when they win. And if you can’t? Go away, work some things out and come back when you can. If your friends are true, they will care when you’re struggling, and will want to know how they can help, or at least lend an ear. It’s not always easy to share, but talking things through will eliminate an unnecessary atmosphere.
Let their success be the inspiration you cling onto in times of struggle, not the fuel for your inner green-eyed monster. Don’t let success destroy your friendship just because you are in a different place in your life.
It’s not about shrinking yourself to make others feel better, or feeling uncomfortable celebrating when you deserved the win. It’s not about feeling like you have to put on a front for fear of dampening the mood either. It’s about using better judgement, consideration for other people’s feelings and better communication within your circles.
Any win – be it career or family orientated – is a win for the team. And should you need extra support, the same team will be there to carry you.
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