You Don't Have To Be Friends With Everyone

It sounds sort of mean and/or aggressive, I know.

But hear me out, and don't misunderstand. This doesn't mean you shouldn't be friendly to everyone, just that the reality is that some personalities don't mix, and that's okay.

I'm sure at some point in your life, you've felt like the odd-ball-out. The black sheep.

Maybe somewhere out there, there is someone who has never felt this way - how nice to be them! But as one who has often been the black sheep, I have to admit... I'm grateful.

I'm grateful that the disconnect from my peers early in life taught me to be introspective, grow a thick skin, and still treat people with respect even when they didn't offer the same to me.

Why do we feel so different sometimes?

For me, it was a lack of shared morals, values, or interests. I wasn't popular or good at sports (never have been!) and I didn't feel good about disobeying my parents. I was the token "goody-goody" and I only knew a handful of peers who felt the same. In college, things changed when I was surrounded by a myriad of people in a setting where you could essentially choose your friends. Again, this is not to say I wasn't kind to everyone or didn't show respect to people who were different than me - just that it was great to surround myself with a group of people I clicked with. Enter: adulthood. It's hard, isn't it? You move, you get married, you start a new job, you buy a house, have a kid (or several), and often without being surrounded by people who "get you."

Somewhere in the transition to adulthood, you begin to feel this overwhelming pressure to befriend anyone. Making friends becomes a painstaking process that often leaves you feeling insecure or unsure of whether or not the feelings of friendship are reciprocated. It's very awkward. It sometimes feels like a repeat of those tender middle school years, when you never knew if you were "cool enough" to hang out with certain people. However, when I think back to how crummy it felt to try and try, or believe that I was someone's friend when they didn't see me as one, I would offer myself one freeing piece of advice that I hope I can remember as an adult:

You don't have to be their friend.

When you don't "click" with someone, move on and don't dwell on it. There's a power in realizing that something may never happen. It's sort of like moving on from a break-up, right? There can be a million little reasons why two people don't click, and trying to force it every time will land you in some terrible, unhealthy relationships.

Choosing not to be friends with someone also doesn't have to look ugly. You don't need to talk bad about anyone behind their back, you don't need to poignantly avoid them at every passing turn, in fact you should be gracious and respectful to them as they too are God's children. We are called to love.

But loving someone and liking someone isn't always synonymous.

Take it from your parents. I bet they didn't always like you! I bet you didn't always like your siblings. Dare I say, sometimes you may not even like your spouse (such as when they're right...). But you always love them. In the same way, we're called to love our enemies. 

(Of course, I'm not alluding to "people who are not our friends, are our enemies," but we should love each other just the same)

All I'm saying, here, is that it's okay not to be friends with everybody. We don't need to feel bad when we don't "click." You don't need to shun someone, or act cold, but you do get to choose who you spend your time with. And actually, if you look up Bible verses regarding friendship, you'll hear a lot of warnings about hanging out with the wrong crowds. Try this list. It's important to have a tribe that challenges you to be a better person and is there for you in need.

As humans, I fully believe we are made for relationships and community. Some are meant for smaller, more intimate communities of close-knit friends, while others are meant for far-reaching circles. But the beauty is that we were all made different, and some people "get" someone more than another. It's something to celebrate!

In my adult life, I've spent far too much time mourning the loss of friendships I thought were deeper than they really were. Instead, I'm going to choose to cultivate and nurture the ones I already hold dear, while still keeping the door open for new ones - I may be surprised who walks through that door!