When I was 40 I completely gave up. I wanted to disappear. Screw passion and purpose. I was done.
I had no friends. Or I was scared of my friends. Or I was ashamed of myself. I forget. Lots of bad things were happening.
I remember talking to a friend and crying on the phone, ‘why is this happening to me again?’
At my 40th birthday party there was me, one person I knew, and all his friends. That was the extent of my close friendships.
That one person who was my friend – he’s no longer friends with me.
What was I doing that was so bad? Why would my friends, family, peers, all stop talking to me. Hadn’t I helped them whenever they needed help? What had I done wrong?
Never ask why? There is never an answer to why? if you ask the negative people in your life.
I don’t know. Life is pretty hard. I don’t want more homework.
Here is what I was doing bad:
I was spending time with people who were bad for me.
How do you know if someone is bad for you?
Try this checklist:
- Do you feel bad or anxious after you spend time with them?
- Are you more often than not, arguing with them?
- Do they put you down in a way that is destructive and not constructive?
- Do they try to limit your opportunities?
- Do they try to isolate you from your friends?
- Do they resent your successes in any way – or try to compete with your successes?
- Do they not listen to you as much as you listen to them?
- Do they add drama to your life instead of remove drama? And what is drama? It took me a long time to realize what “drama” meant. Drama is for the theater and not for your life. In a good drama, often the hero dies. Don’t be the hero of a drama.
- Do you get so busy with their life you forget about your own health, your own creativity, your own ability to change and better the world? Remember: if you are not making the choices in your life, someone else is – and the results won’t be good. You need to choose yourself.
- Do you sometimes cry after an interaction with them.
If you say yes to any of the above, then even if they are sitting at the table across from you right this second, stand up and go sit at another table.
When I was 40 I had many people in life where I could check the box on all of the above. Even the crying.
Finally, I gave up. I dropped out. I lost touch with everyone for awhile. I moved 70 miles north. I hid.
And I started to write. I was writing about all the bad stuff. Someone even said, “this is like watching a train wreck in action.”
But I wasn’t afraid anymore. And I started to find others like me.
Others who were no longer “civilians.”
Reverse the checklist above.
Those are the people you want in your life. There are very few of them. There should be very few of them.
That is the secret of all success in life. There isn’t anything else.
The other day I was meeting a new friend for the first time. I said to another friend of mine, “I’m always nervous meeting someone new.”
He said, “Why?”
I said, “I don’t know. Maybe I don’t have enough confidence in myself that I’m a good person. Someone worth meeting.”
“Of course you are,” he said. “Look at what you have even done for me in the short time we’ve known each other.”
Listen, he said, just do this. When you meet the new person, lean back and think inside your head, impress me. And then see what happens.
People will quickly show you who they are.
So I did. And now my life is a little better than it was a week ago. And I hope next week… even better.