Before I get started, let’s define what I mean by “asshole.” I’m not talking about people who lack any sense of empathy. I’m not attempting to apologize for people who are sociopaths, psychopaths, or just generally don’t give a damn about their fellow human beings. That’s an entirely different kind of asshole. Don’t be one of those people, and, probably, just try to avoid them in general. They won’t care, I promise.
I have become completely okay with people thinking I’m an asshole. I don’t want, nor need, to be friends with everyone I meet. All relationships have their time and place. Some might be more consistent than others, but we all put our friendships into various hierarchies (people who say they don’t do this are probably lying, and almost certainly lying to you about where you fall in their hierarchy).
About a year ago a good friend of mine passed away unexpectedly. I had not known him very long, but his impact on me, and everyone who knew him, was undeniable. About a year prior to his passing, I got divorced, sold my house, and moved to a different city. At the time, my goal was to be as distracted as possible. I was going through a lot of change in a very short period of time. I took advantage of any opportunity to not sit alone in my relatively empty apartment. I met a lot of new people, and made some great new friends…suffice it to say, it was pretty devastating when one of them suddenly died.
Pretty much everyone was overcome with grief, and grief can be a motherfucker. It will bring out the best, and the worst in all of us.
There are some people who just seem to exist to suck energy from everyone else. They’re the people who make you tired as soon as they arrive. You know you’re going to hear the same sob story they’ve told a million times. In general, like to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. Everyone falls on hard times, and we’ve all had to find a way out of a low spot. But, there are people for whom being in a low spot is their identity, they will sabotage every positive thing that comes their way, and they will gladly drag you down with them (misery loves company is probably one of the most painfully accurate cliches).
When a tragedy occurs, these people crank that suction up to 11. A room full of sadness is like a never ending buffet of delicacies.
But, tragedy has a unique way of unleashing a lot of positivity to the world as well. It come bring people closer, and bonds can become stronger.
My friend’s passing forced me to step back and assess how, and with whom, I had been spending my time. In the year since, I have made a conscious effort to make the bonds that matter as strong as possible. Other people have been moved slightly further out of my inner circle, and, for others, I’ve all but banished them to the wasteland. For about a year I tried to be everyone’s friend, I tried to treat everyone equally, but that’s not sustainable for the long run. I’m absolutely willing to let other people think I’m an asshole in order to have stronger bonds with the people I care about. I can’t keep giving energy to people in the wasteland, b/c there won’t be any energy coming back. It’s a black hole, and I’m not going to keep throwing my time into.
I’ve done this same pattern many times. It’s sort of like my version of Goldilocks. I’ll try out a very different varieties and see which is “just right.” I’ve made some great friends and bonds that will last a lifetime. I’m sure there is no shortage of people that think I’m an asshole, and that’s okay.