Fear & Friendship In An Anxious Life


The best people in your life care about you & themselves. The worst people care only about what you can do for them. Unfortunately, when anxiety takes over this distinction can be blurred. Understanding this and recognising the signs to help maintain the distinction is a challenging process, but it's one we are all capable of. 

Friendships & Understanding

The best people in your life, they want to see you grow as a person. They long to see you achieve your goals, to be happy and to have a richer life. They won't mind a "no", nor run from you when you have a problem, nor scorn you if the problem is a challenging one. They will accept it and try to help, or at the very least to make the most of whatever the situation is. If you can't meet, they will look forward to what you do together when next you meet. 

Life is fragile and all too often far too short. Realising this is a huge part of gaining an understanding and better controlling these situations. 
All of us have friends, and more often than not we will try to do our level best to meet everyone. It results in great times with people, and frustrating moments alike when plans don't materialise. That's life. It's feasible to say at some point or other, the situation will arise where those people meet someone and move away. They will have a kid, which becomes their focus in life, and they may not be about so much. Or, they will have a goal they're chasing and they'll commit to it meaning you might not see them very much anymore. 

You will wonder why that is? You will find yourself asking if you did something wrong. But, they won't bat an eye about it. To them, they're chasing their goal or doing their thing, to be happy. It's a weird reality to get used to, but the older I get the clearer it feels. It's just life, and to a point for a lot of us, there's a lingering naivety from our teenage years. A naivety leading to the fear of missing out on something. Being aware and recognising this behaviour early on is important. 

Saying No 

Choosing to say no is okay. You shouldn't feel guilty for chasing the goals you have. There should be no guilt in going for a walk, spending time making a healthy lunch, or writing to clear your head. This is normal behaviour, the same as the actions people in your life are taking in their lives.  As each year passes they'll narrow in more on those goals. Some may take the piss by using you to reach their goals without considering your goals. That's life. You have to be awake to these things to realise that they're happening. Only you can control the frequency with which it is allowed to happen. 

It's not a badness in people. Time can slip away from us. Most people, as they hit their mid 20's, start to narrow in on what it is they want in life. Some will do so and still make the effort to see you. Others will focus on their own goals and see you the from time to time. Sometimes the timing won't suit both of you. Others will drift away. You'll feel guilty, but, more often than not they'll be focused and won't feel the same level of guilt as you. Priorities shift. It's life. Making the most of each moment you have with them matters more than anything. Gratitude matters. 

It's not to say everybody will go off and do their own thing and not make an effort. Some will, but some definitely won't. 
Your goals and time are valuable. You deserve to be able to do what you want to do, same as you would hope for your friends and family to do. 

When you take that step to make the time, you'll move closer to your goals. Think about it. How many successful people got to where they are by saying yes to everybody? To those who wanted them to go out drinking when they were working on something important? How many of them bowed down to those in their lives at the expense of their goals, again and again, and again? Rarely. They are successful & still surrounded by friends. What's the difference in the friends they have now versus the ones they've lost? These friends are people that embrace their uniqueness and lift them up. Friends that support how they can, while doing their own thing. Friends that never hesitate to help where they can. 

The goal should be to live a life where you're doing the things you want to do. Where those that you surround yourself with are doing what they love. A life based on a mutual respect and a gratitude for the times you get to share together. Where lifting one another up is integral to the friendship. A life where you want the best for those in your life, and they for you. Where you respect their decisions & goals they chase and they for you. Then, life - though busy - is a richer & happier one.

Living with anxiety can make friendships difficult. Often that difficulty will be vivid and omnipresent for you but can go unnoticed by those around you. It can make something tiny feel like a huge issue, for you and you alone. Don't for one moment beat yourself up over that. Focus on being aware and present. Focus on recognising facts from thoughts, on recognising when those around you care for you but are chasing their own goals. Focus on respecting that, being grateful for what you share together, and on what your own goals are. This isn't an easy change and often takes a lot of failures to achieve, but doing it is vital, and you deserve the results. Learn about emotional intelligence & self-esteem. Read books on it, understand it better and try to improve yours. Those friends will want the same for you, as you for them. Start now. 


This is not about any one particular scenario, person, or place. Having lived with severe anxiety, I have gone through a long path to find balance and calm. A path that still continues. I have spent time annoying the crap out of my friends and family, and far too much time overthinking the most minuscule of things. At some point, I began to read more about self-esteem & emotional intelligence, in part thanks to the wonderfully entertaining and wise words of Blindboy Boatclub from the Rubberbandits. I'm working on it, I'm appreciating the little moments with friends and trying to put the past in the past. I have so much more to do and will continue to work on it. This post is a reflection of the understanding I've sought to have in my own life. The pursuit of greater emotional intelligence. It's shared in the hope that perhaps what I've learned can help you, or someone you know.