I came across this great quote the other day that said, “Small circle. Private life. Peaceful mind.” It made me realize that the older I get, the smaller my circle of trust becomes, and I’m absolutely okay with that. Let’s discuss why it’s not a bad thing at all.
The Older I Get, The Smaller My Circle of Trust Becomes
Like most young people, I spent a good chunk of my youth measuring my overall value by the number of people I had in my circle. The more friends I had, the more successful I felt. After all, if 100 people think I’m pretty great, I must be doing something right, correct?
You can’t blame me for feeling that way, really. We’re taught from a very early age that popularity is the key to everything in life. We’ve all been told so many times that it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Ergo, if you know a lot of people, you’ll have a better chance of getting ahead.
With age comes wisdom, though, and as I got older, I learned that a small circle filled with true friends that I can trust with my heart, and soul (and yes, secrets) is infinitely more valuable than an ocean-sized circle of pseudo-friends.
When you know your circle, you never have to worry about people drilling holes in your boat
Let’s stick with that ocean metaphor for a moment. I came across a quote that perfectly explains exactly why I keep my circle small these days. It goes, “Make sure everybody in your ‘boat’ is rowing and not drilling holes when you’re not looking. Know your circle.”
With a giant circle, you really just never know if someone is secretly drilling holes in your boat. When you have a small circle of trust, though, you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that everyone in it is actually rowing.
Sure, sometimes someone rows in the wrong direction, metaphorically speaking. Even the closest friends have arguments and disagreements. But when you’re truly on the same team, it’s easy enough to course-correct and get back on the right track. Real friends don’t let disagreements sink the whole boat.
True friends choose to understand
Vironika Tugaleva once wrote, “In some ways, we will always be different. In other ways, we will always be the same. There is always room to disagree and blame, just as there is always room to take a new perspective and empathize. Understanding is a choice.”
When you disagree with someone that you genuinely love and trust, you choose to empathize with them and at least try to understand their perspective. I choose to fill my inner circle of trust with people that I know would choose to understand me, and whom I’d do the same for in return.
You can do the same as you cultivate your own circle. Ask yourself, “If we had a fight over something I’m passionate about, would I try to repair the friendship or just let it go?” If you’d choose to let it go, that person doesn’t belong in your inner circle. Let them go now. Don’t hold onto them just because you feel like you have to. Losing friends is a part of growing up.
Slowly losing friends is a part of growing up, and it’s okay.
According to a 2009 study done by Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research, we lose roughly half of our “social network” every 7 years and that’s okay! As the quote above says, “Slowly losing friends is a part of growing up. It’s okay to have less but real ones.” I think that’s something we only learn as we get older. When we’re young, we try to hold onto friendships with an iron fist. We take the last “F” in “BFF” very seriously.
The thing is some best friends aren’t meant to be lifers. As we grow and change, so does the depth of our friendships. When we cling together in the same boat, one of us will end up drilling holes just to escape, even without realizing it.
It is okay to let people go. It’s okay to say, “I love you, and I want to keep loving you, keep our happy memories intact. I feel like we’ve grown apart, though. So, for the sake of everything we were to each other in the past, I am letting you go now, but I will always be there for you if you truly need me.”
On the other hand, if your friendship grows toxic instead of just apart, give yourself permission to completely cut ties. You should never force yourself to tolerate fake friends just for the sake of your circle.
A smaller circle means far less drama, conflict, and stress
Speaking of drama, the older I get, the less patience and energy I have for dealing with stress and conflict in my friend groups. That nonsense was bad enough when we were teenagers! We’re all grown-ups now, with real lives and problems of our own. Adulthood is hard enough without a bunch of fake friends stirring up drama every chance they get. I’d rather surround myself with a few really great friends and spend time together just enjoying our lives.
When your circle gets smaller, your vision gets clearer
“When my circle got smaller, my vision got clearer.” This is such a simple yet great quote, and it’s so true. The more people you have in your circle, the easier it is for your vision to get clouded by the way others see the world. It’s kind of like the night sky. Too many clouds block your view of the stars, but by looking through a telescope (a literal small circle), you get a better view.
It’s better to have four quarters than one hundred pennies
This is such a perfect friendship metaphor. First, 4 quarters is definitely a lighter load than 100 pennies. If they fall out of your pocket, they’re easier to pick up. Plus, quarters are far more useful than pennies. Everything that requires using change takes quarters, but very few things take pennies. Carrying around 100 pennies just weighs you down…and so does carrying around an entourage of fake friends.
Life is too short to waste it on nonsense
I think the biggest reason that I choose to keep my circle small is that I’m just way past the point where I want to deal with nonsense anymore. As I’ve said before, the older I get, the happier I am with the simple things. I like a quiet life filled with simple pleasures these days. Spending time with my family, making new memories with my kids, walking on the beach with a soothing breeze coming off the ocean…these things matter far more to me than worrying about how popular I am.
Long story short, we’re not in high school anymore. Having more friends doesn’t equal a richer and more fulfilled life. A small circle filled with people that you truly love and trust is so much better than one filled with people trying to sink your boat behind your back.
I want to leave you with one last quote. It says, “Never expect. Never assume. Never ask. And never demand. Just let it be, if it’s meant to be it will happen.” A true friend is someone who is there without expectations or demands, and without assuming that you’ll ask them to be there for you. That’s how you know they belong in your circle.