The pandemic which has kept me (and most others) indoors for over a year now has been the most drastically I’ve grown ever in that short of time.
At the start, when we first went into lockdown and schools shut, I, like most of my peers had never seen such a thing (initial news of the virus’s impact), so it was easy to presume that everything would be back to normal in no time.
However, as days went by, and lockdowns began, the estimate of when that would be kept getting postponed. It was the first time in a long time that I had a break from the then over a decade of academic structure.
Exciting at first — never had daily video call interaction or school from home — it felt new but temporary, as though I should take advantage of the time away for the short while I had it for.
However, of course this wasn’t as temporary as I’d thought. Over this past year, I’ve spent a LOT of time with my family at home, but perhaps even more time with just myself.
With cancellations of most plans/events, I had more time, and greater choice. No timetable, no authority looking over my shoulder, no restrictions from the standpoint of what I technically could do or think about.
This prompted some uncomfortable conversations with myself given the silence and time that I had
- Why was I spending the time where I was spending it?
- Why was I spending the time with the people I was spending it with?
- Why did I think the things I did?
- If I didn’t “have to”, would I spend my time doing the things I had been, with the people I had been, thinking the things I had been?
For starters, the idea that “you have to do anything” is an illusion. An easy escape is to assume systems that exist in the world are to be followed and never questioned.
Easy to be passive instead of active, easy to react instead of activate. I never was an a passive child, I took initiative — but didn’t know that I could or rather should (in my best interest) drastically change how I progress and whom I do it with today, or that there was even a better alternative to the status quo I had been living.
Was that “wrong?” Was that a “bad” idea? To change the norm without an external nudge felt…uncomfortable. This made me realize I (used to) depend more on external “go aheads” and decision validation, instead of internal observation and conviction. *enter another at-the-time unwanted confrontation*.
The thing with relationships and friends is that there are different types and different ones play different roles. But I think it’s particularly interesting to think about how we make a lot of the friends we have.
Personally, a lot of my friends were formed because we both happened to have something in common — often the starting point being that we’re in the same place at the same time. Same school, same class, same party, same residential community, same team, same mutual friend’s house — you get the point.
If you go to school everyday, or you go to dance practice everyday, since you spend the most time with the people gathered there, it increases the chances that they will be who you stick around with when you can.
When younger, I wasn’t the one directly making choices as to where I was going to school or living, and so the coincidental fact that the people who I met there, were there, played out in my “favor” when it came to having them as friends.
I didn’t have to make much of an effort, it was easy — we were at the same place, at the same time.
Yes okay Sriya, we get it.
However, if you didn’t have to be anywhere, or rather were removed from being at the same place that most of your friendships stem from — which would last and which wouldn’t?
Over the pandemic, I realized that there were some friendships that I wanted to check in on, keep developing, and others I almost forgot about or wasn’t bothered by letting go of if we didn’t happen to be at the same place at the same time anymore.
It’s normal to change friends and circles as time passes, to distance from people over time. However quite a few that I realized I was okay with letting go of were people I spent most of my time with.
Ultimately, I let go of multiple “friendships”, which I titled to hold high value (e.g. best friend, close friend…), because I associated these titles with how much time I was around those people.
There were three main reasons for me making these changes
1. “You are an average of your five closest friends”
All of this reflection and change sparked from one line of a conversation back in June ’20.
The person on the other line mentioned she realized how true the statement, “you are an average of your five friends” is.
And I felt a pit in my stomach, because those I termed to be closest to me [i.e. spent the most time around ~ ps. I no longer associate this two factors together], I didn’t want to be an average of.
I wanted a greater challenge. I didn’t feel challenged. And so foresaw stagnancy, and slow movement in relation to growth.
That was enough to spark change. Here’s the next uncomfortable confrontation that followed…
2. Recognizing incidental friendships for what they were
I recognized incidental friendships — we happened to be in the same place so spent time together —where the depth wasn’t as strong or meaningful enough to last without the incidence continuing to occur.
Surprising how many of these I had, but made me recognize more deeply the kind of people I wanted to actually surround myself with & why — leading me to ultimately understand myself better and see my evolved values (e.g. growth, curiosity) come into action as I strengthened new/old friendships.
If you’re curious, here’s a TLDR on the type of people I’ve chosen to surround myself with most since…
Creating environments for myself > accepting environments that come my way.
To do this 👆🏽 I had to understand which environments are ✅ for me and 🚫 for me. Through experience + reflection, I’ve become…
Genuine relationships form when you know that they are based on authentic connection and values > incidence-only fit.
However, I’ve also realized that they’re other friendships outside of this that I value too.
In ’21 I want to continue focusing on the development of founder and networking friendships. These ones prioritize collaboration, productivity, growth mindset, further connection expansion and can be aligned on long-term goals and vision.
This has [part intentional and part unintentional] been my primary priority from 2020 to now.
However, I am now learning the importance of investing in friendships that fall under the entertaining (i.e. fun), deep talk, and soul categories more.
I have in the past, however, subconsciously stopped showing up to them because I felt like it was “wasting time.”
Q: Why the change?
A: To have more pure present fun, laughter, and meaningful bonding that stems from shared values not necessarily goals or interests.
The kid in class that always has everyone in fits cause of their jokes is someone I wouldn’t want to neglect the importance of.
“Ultimately, people that are growing and building at a pace and standard that makes me feel uncomfortable are the people I want to be surrounded by.
However, I similarly value the feel-good, shared-value friendships where we just have a good time for the sake of only that, and perhaps go on a spontaneous adventure too. No, they don’t have to be mutually exclusive.”
2. Investing in long-term relationships
It’s easy to over-strategize how to choose and prioritize long-term relationships. Here’s a piece of advice I received, that’s underrated, especially for people like me that make decisions based on logic more than emotion.
“If you just think about this person, do you have a positive feeling towards them, a negative one, or are you unsure?
Ask yourself why once you have this feeling processed in your mind and see where it takes you.
If you make a decision on what friends to keep/what to do, you should feel good about your decision, this is how you know you are on the right track.” ~ Harrison
An approach taken when evaluating who you currently spend time with, an analytical or intuitive one can be taken — both together makes sense to me.
And if you use both, ultimately, it matters how you feel about your decisions in the end too.
Do with this what makes sense for you:)
I’ve learned to see that people are the ultimate X factor. As a kid who wanted to just “do it my own”, I now understand the power of relationships and teams.
But it’s not easy, because there is no formula. There is no right answer to any of this. Understanding yourself better helps though, and that requires you to question yourself, routines, and cognitive biases.
I’m still learning. But the good thing is that relationship development and genuine connections too are an infinite game. It cannot be won, you can only grow. There is no 100%. So I am still figuring it out.
Experimenting, playing infinite games, where the reward is not a title but simply growth which one cannot graduate from.
But if you takeaway one thing from this, let it be to…
Choose your environment, don’t let it choose you🛣 ~ Sriya’s April lesson of the month [LOTM] 1/10
Do you have any similar or drastically different experiences? Lessons to help expand this one?
I’d love to learn — currently seeking to expand my circle of competence.