Say No to Toxic Friendships

I woke one morning and realised that most of my “friendships” were very one sided. It was really sad and embarrassing and I also felt like a complete and utter idiot for being the only one fighting for the friendships; I was always the one reaching out to people. However, when I had the epiphany about my friendships, it was very freeing and cathartic. It was freeing in the sense that I had more free time which I could dedicate to my studies (who am I kidding, I spent most of that time watching makeup videos on YouTube but hey, that is also self-development) and I just had less bs and drama in my life.

Not all my friendships were one-sided; some of my friends did reach out to me. For the few who did reach out to me, they were disrespectful and dismissive. I think one of the most disrespectful things a person can do is to try to minimise or dismiss people’s feelings and that is exactly what went on those friendships. This is something people need to understand, just because you are polite to people does not mean you respect people (Hello, even I am guilty of this). Do you respect me as a human being? Do you respect that I have feelings and emotions? Do you respect that sometimes I just need to vent without you telling me to “lock up”? If no, then you do not respect me at all. I think the straw that broke the camel’s back was when I was trying to confide in a friend about some trouble in my family and how I felt about it. She basically responded with “Get over it”. After that conversation, I gave up on friendships like that because as a wise woman (the wise woman is me) once said: “What is a friend if not a free therapist”. A person should be able to talk to friends without fear of judgement or silencing.

Another reason why I stopped talking to most (and I mean most) of my former secondary school mates was because everyone was so judgmental and elitist. Nigeria is a very classist and elitist society; I believe that Nigerians are even more snobbish than the Victorian Era English. I was quite the snob, but living in a foreign country opened my eyes to how much of a snob I was and so I made a conscious decision to stop being one. I used to a mean girl in secondary school; I used to ‘stroke‘ (Nigerian Slang that means to maliciously roast someone) people a lot and just be an all-around terrible person. I then came to the realisation that gossiping was unproductive and just plain mean and I tried to stop gossiping. However, since gossiping was the glue that kept me close to some my friends when I tried to stop gossiping (at least malicious gossiping), I didn’t have anything to say to them and it was awkward af. So I just gradually stopped talking to most of them and some did reach out but I was just worn out.

3 months ago, I was home for the holidays and I went to a former school mate’s wedding. In the wedding, I met some of my former friends and we were just talking about random stuff. A girl in a backless dress walked by and all of us looked at her and they proceeded to make fun of her. I decided not to take part in that roasting and one of my former friends commented that I was now boring since I used to be a master roaster. Well, I am sorry that I don’t find being mean fun anymore, it’s called becoming a better person.

The final reason that I stopped being friends with my former classmates is because I was still holding onto a lot of resentment; I hadn’t forgiven some guys that did some serious bullying to me in secondary school. For my sanity, I had to let go of all that resentment.  I did not know that I was still angry at them because I used to talk to them before I graduated. In fact, I used to think that we were actually friends (I realise now that the “friendships” were dysfunctional). I thought that I had really forgiven them and moved past the pain, but on some days, I would remember how much pain I was in, how I used to avoid classes just to avoid getting bullied. I also remembered that they had not actually apologised for the physiological damage that they caused me and I would get angry at myself for being such a fool and pushover. I knew that in order for me to let go of all those negative feelings, I had to let go of the people that caused those negative feelings and so I did that.

“What did they do?” someone might ask. I had just transferred from one secondary school to another and I did not know anybody in my new school. I was a new student and so I was very quiet and did not participate in class. We had an Integrated Science Test and I got the highest grade in the test. Someone started a rumour that I had cheated by writing answers on my thighs; I guess the person thought that since I did not participate during lessons that I was not smart enough to get the highest grade in the test. The rumour spread like wildfire and even got to the attention of the teacher and I was called and questioned. Luckily, the teacher decided to give me the benefit of the doubt but I could have been punished, suspended or even expelled for something that I did not do. I felt so hurt and betrayed and after that, I pretty much lost my faith in humanity and became a misanthrope; I cried for days and pretended to be sick just so I could avoid the whispers in my class. I would really like to know who started that rumour so that I can confront them and let them know “Hey, that hurt me, really deep”.

I recently experienced something that reminded me of my past experiences with bullies. I had a job last summer. I was doing so well in the job that I got promoted. After I got promoted, one of my coworkers who had been at the company way longer than I had was perhaps jealous that I was now her superior and she decided to act out. It started with her giving me attitude but I paid her no mind. When it became clear that I was unphased by her attitude, she then told my superior that I was incompetent at my job. My superior already knew that lady had a problem with newly promoted staff since she had been working with her for a long time and she also knew that I was good at my job. However, she did tell me to be lookout because of my “hater”. I could not believe that I was going through same old secondary school drama in a workplace. I became very emotional and eventually started crying because it was triggering. I had to relive the pain that I went through back then. I guess secondary school never really ends. Since I could not avoid work like I did school, I decided to cope by playing IDFWU (the uncensored version) by Big Sean in my  head anytime I saw that lady and it was effective.

So yeah that is why I am no longer friends with my former school mates, but I can still hang out with them (well I can hang out with some of them ,not all), joke and laugh and all that jazz but I know I no longer consider them my friends. Now, we are just people who went to the same secondary school.




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