You Cannot Be Everything to Everyone and You Needn’t Try
This pandemic will leave us with a smaller Friends List and with a deeper sense of who our like-minded people really are.
A few months ago, I found on Instagram a picture with a curious phrase written on it: „Fasting From People Is Also Important”.
It stayed with me, glued to my mind, because it rang so true. Strange, but so true.
We always talk about decluttering our homes, about honoring our bodies by fasting at certain intervals, about letting our cells heal. About simplifying and curating our lives.
So we downsize possesions, we lower our food intake, we cross out unessential activities… but what about people?
For me, this horrible pandemic was also a moment to thoroughly think about the relationships that are true and meaningful for me. And, clearer than ever, about the ones that aren’t.
These times seem to pull both the best and the worst out of all of us, but not in an absolute sort of way. Not in an „I’m good, you’re bad” kind of way, but rather in a way that shows us whose values and principles we share and whose are worlds apart from ours.
At times, we are dumbfounded to discover that there’s an abyss between our way of looking at major things in life and that of people whom we reckoned to be kindred spirits.
We are all different in most options, choices and preferences and it’s perfectly fine. We wouldn’t ruin a friendship because we have a different sense of style or clashing musical tastes. But our core values and principles are fundamentally unnegotiable.
That is the essential 1% of what we are as people: the beliefs that we stand for and that we are willing to defend and uphold no matter what.
Not merely as a moral obligation, but as a intrinsic part of who we are in this world.
We cannot simply smile and move on when something feels totally wrong and unfair, because keeping quiet about it makes us feel like we’re choking on the inside.
These past few weeks I unfriended, unliked and unfollowed lots of people. Not as a statement, but as a consequence of the phrase above.
I don’t think we all have to be on the same page about the important things, but we don’t have to all be friends to one another either. It’s not a prerequisite of life.
Ever since kindergarten, we liked who we liked. We weren’t all best buddies, but rather we deliberately chose who was part of our inner circle and who wasn’t. The rules were unspoken, but obvious: we befriended the people with whom we had the most things in common.
Even though we were radically different about most things, we made similar choices on the important 1%. That 1% brought us all together.
So… how come we are all friends on social media? We all Like, Share and LOVE like it’s all one big happy family. It isn’t. This pandemic made it clear for the whole world how fundamentally different our belief systems are. And it’s okay.
We just don’t have to pretend otherwise.
Being disconnected from other human beings for these short but heavy months will show us who is part of our tribe, who is a true friend, whose presence we truly miss and whose face we yearn to see again. And who were just the “social” contacts that we befriended out of convenience or boredom.
I often hear people saying that “Wow, once this is over, I will be one busy bee, going around and meeting everyone for coffees, parties, everything”.
Well… I don’t think so. In my case, I will offer more of my time and energy to my few true friends. The ones that I often had no space for in the busy stretch of a week, because I was so busy “meeting people and going places”. Like all of us.
I think this pandemic will leave us all different in our outlook on life. I do not believe in pressuring ourselves to turn this time into a crash course on bettering everything.
But I do think that we will come out with different feelings about the meaningless chit-chat, about people who only drain us without giving anything back and about people whom we did not miss at all or that were just “social” contacts without any real depth of connection.
We will winnow our Friends List, we will reconsider what we stand for and we will probably realize how precious and few our true friends are.