We hope to get these from our friends when we are undertaking a new venture, setting goals and going after them, and following our hearts. We expect for them to be our biggest cheerleaders.
We share our goals and dreams, they share theirs, and when we finally take those big first steps, we excitedly share the news and expect that support. Just like we would support them.
Except, it doesn’t always happen that way.
A client called me yesterday, upset and uncertain. She had just started my cleanse program, and had a fight with her friends about the dietary changes she was trying to implement.
The day before, we had set up the plan and she’d been motivated and excited. After stressful coursework and exams, she had several weeks of travel for interviews. She was bloated, heavy, and could barely squeeze into her suit for those interviews. Her digestion was off. She was experiencing heartburn for the first time ever.
I gave her the program and reviewed the materials. She would set up an accountability plan to make sure she followed through: her husband was already on board and her friends knew she was going move forward with a cleanse.
The following day, she told these friends she was starting the cleanse and could not meet them for a regularly scheduled lunch. It was always comprised of an elaborate spread of rich food prepared by one member of the group, and was therefore socially impossible to turn down.
They knew she was unhappy with her recent weight gain. They knew she wasn’t fitting into her own clothes. They knew she was not feeling well. Rather than supporting her goals and meeting for tea instead, as she had suggested, they got angry with her.
They told her she was being rude and called her ridiculous. They told her she was thin enough and didn’t need to lose weight. She replied that even her husband had commented on her weight gain since they moved to the area. The friends got defensive and twisted his comment. She couldn’t win.
Sadly, this experience is not foreign to me.
Friends are often our worst enemies when we go after our goals or start a new phase of growth. We assume they’ll be there for us, congratulate us, and keep us on track if we need a little help when we hit a bump in the road. Except they don’t. Not always. More often than anyone would like to admit, they disappoint. They might support us when we are down or life is steady. But, if we start to move forward, grow, evolve—*boom*—the support is gone.
They get angry. They disappear. They cut us out because we’re leaving them behind, and they’re comfortable just where they are.
Instead of celebrating our success, they resent it.
Using gentle words, I coached her through her experience. With sorrow in her voice, she asserted that she could not use her friends as her accountability partners. She would ignore them and stay on track.
The people we laugh with and share stories with aren’t always there when we need them, or in the capacity we wish they were. Sometimes they will even try to derail our efforts. Which bewilders us at first, because we were there for them. We supported them when they needed us. How could they do this to us?
Most people live comfortably underneath their fear. They avoid anything that reminds them of their own potential for failure or loss. They get angry at anything that reminds them of their own lost dreams.
They cut others down to prop themselves up. It’s not you, it’s them.
When we confront this kind of backlash, it’s easy to turn down the lights on our vision and stop—stop pursuing our goals and stay in the comfort zone because that is where our friends are and want us to remain.
Pursuing our dreams can be a lonely game when everyone around us is still dreaming.
But we aren’t made to be stagnant. We are made to live and grow and evolve. Stepping out of that comfort zone opens us up to possibility.
From that state of aliveness, new and nurturing relationships will blossom, while our old network is still stuck in the dirt, still hiding from the light.
And the light is always worth the loss.
Author: Amanda Kelly
Image: Philippe Put/Flickr
Apprentice Editor: Stella Bonnie; Editor: Nicole Cameron