As I work to relaunch my website and move gracefully (wink, wink) through many transitions in my life, I'm going to repost some of my Cabin Diaries columns over here on my blog. I decided to pull the Cabin Diaries from The Bohemian Collective as I was feeling pulled in too may directions and my time with the beloved Collective has come to an end. I will always love Laura and the Bohemian Collective so very much, as so so much of my current creative joy and connection sprung from that source! (Thank you, Laura). And as we know, the only constant is change. So here is a column that I wrote on friendship. As I post these, I'd love to know your thoughts. Agree? Disagree? Relate? Don't relate? And, if you have any questions, submit them to me here and I will answer them here on my own blog. X
Dear Cabin Diaries,
After a long year of soul searching in sobriety, I took a machete to the weedy and emotionally tangled “friendships" and social connections I had. I willingly and very happily pressed pause on many of my female relationships. If it felt forced, I pressed pause. If it felt one-sided, I pressed pause. If I felt they never listened, I pressed pause. If I felt it was toxic or negative, I pushed stop. If they made me feel hard to love, I pushed EJECT! Am I selfish? Am I incapable of long-lasting relationships? I think not.
Not a single woman I know can have 100 friends and equally give herself to each. Even 25 friends is challenging! I asked myself, “What's wrong with sharing simplicity? What’s wrong with curating a beautiful collection of 1-5 friendships? Why does having more friends mean more fun, more happiness?” Friendship isn't something we can just pin into our lives. The perception we curate on social media about popularity and being loved or having oodles of true companions and contentedness in our lives can be a masterful deception.
Sadie—shine your light. Share with us your wisdom on choosing powerful female relationships. I would L-O-V-E to read your words on positive, powerful connection. How do you feel we should weed out the musts and shoulds and have-tos in friend relationships? We owe it to ourselves to pull out of our old friend foundation and plant anew! Don't you think?
Less is More
Dear Less is More,
What a wonderful letter, and such an important issue. Indeed, the alarming grip of social media is not only relentless, but it spreads many misconceptions, as you mention. In order to be healthy users of social media, we must remember that it is always false—that every person projects their avatar state, and so that’s what we see. The term “curated” is in wide use these days, and with good reason. Thanks to Instagram, we can actually curate our lives. Remarkable!
The best defense against this is self-imposed reality checks. Sometimes a break from social media is in order (delete the apps for a few days—it’s a game changer); but we also must consciously remind ourselves that what people post is not how they truly feel or how their lives really are. No one posts on social media the same way they’d post in their journal. It’s always for display. And remember, for every perfect flatlay, there’s usually a big ugly mess surrounding it outside the frame. I’m sure you know this. Still, it’s my duty to remind you.
I, too, have been long baffled by the bazillion-best-friends myth. I’m not sure if someone really can have 100 best friends. You can have 100 people with whom you bond over a central theme or goal, but the relationships aren’t the same as having a true bestie with whom you share your heart, your underwear, the last bite of chocolate, and your secrets. In my own life, I’ve always been a quality-over-quantity kind of girl. I’ve always had a couple BFFs, and they mean the world to me. I have other friends, sure, but my BFFs are different. And there aren’t many of them. They are more valuable than gold.
In your letter, you ask, “What’s wrong with curating a beautiful collection of 1-5 friendships? Why does having more friends mean more fun, more happiness?”
To this I say: Nothing is wrong with it! But I will ask you to ask yourself—who is making you feel like this is wrong? Where are your beliefs coming from? This might be something worth looking into. There is nothing quite so good as a personal belief evaluation. Every time I do one, it’s deeply uncomfortable and then liberating. (I’m probably overdue as well).
And of course, if you are finding yourself surrounded by “friends” who make you feel guilty or bad about yourself… then it certainly is time for some serious weeding. You don’t need that sort of thing—no one does. Saying no or goodbye to certain friendships is a tough and important part of a healthy life. List-making can be really helpful in this situation, write it out like you would with any other decision: pros and cons, fears and anxieties...whatever helps you sort out the "why and how."
You also ask: How do you feel we should weed out the musts and shoulds and have-tos in friend relationships? This question, I know, sits in the hearts of many women and humans. The simple answer is: boundaries. Say NO more often. Both of these sound simple, but they aren’t easy to implement, especially when you first start learning. My personal philosophy states that "shoulds" and "have-tos" are largely unreal and impractical, and in a strong friendship, they come up very rarely. When a friend is in distress, we help, of course (within the limits of what we are able to offer). But these little things, like "I should go to that," or "I have to meet so-and-so because X," these things don't ultimately matter. And because you are in charge of your self-care, and because nobody cares about you as much as YOU care about you, it's your responsibility to set limits for yourself and to stick by them.
In light of that, I encourage you to read this article, which discusses leaving or ending friendships and addresses those feelings of “musts and shoulds.” It may prove useful to you. “Sometimes, as things move and shift, friendships that once seemed anchoring and powerful will become the inverse of these things. They will become draining, unsafe, negative, uncomfortable. They might leave us tired after we spend time in them or leave us with a vague feeling of discomfort. Certain friendships can suddenly not be right for us anymore, and this phenomenon requires graceful navigation, the likes of which can only come with self-love, trust, and compassion.”
Second, this article by one of my creative heroes, Anna Lovind, totally nails it with the call to simplicity and how spiritual it can be. It’s not just in our friendships (although that’s a big part of it). “I’ve learned to say no. I say no to so much these days, you wouldn’t believe it. Over the last three and a half years, since we decided to leave the city and have our second baby, I’ve said no to speaking gigs, leading workshops, giving sessions, coaching writers, big beautiful book projects; I’ve said no to exciting travels, to parties, to weddings, to hanging out; I’ve said no to buying new clothes, to renovating the kitchen, to shiny magazines, to television, to social media. Honestly, sometimes it amazes me that there’s anything left. But there is. There’s plenty.” In my own experience, Saying No is often what puts us in line with our best selves, rather than Saying Yes.
Bottom line is that your time is precious. You are precious. A friend is someone you love and who loves you back. Love is an action. You can see it in how someone treats you, what they say to you, the effort they make. And vice versa. And how it feels. Love doesn't feel draining or depleting, ultimately, if it's flowing freely in both directions. Above all, we must each always be the type of friend that we would want to have. Each of us as human beings must act in love in the truest sense. It is only in this way that we can truly experience friendship. Give and you shall receive.
S.E. Hinton, author of the famed novel The Outsiders wrote, “If you have two friends in your lifetime, you're lucky. If you have one good friend, you're more than lucky.”
I wholeheartedly agree.