The Lesson That Took 27 Years For Me To Learn

April 05 2017

I used to have a lot of friends. I don’t anymore.

I know what you’re going to say…”Oh, honey, don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s a circumstance of growing older, of moving to a different city. It’s just life…people will come into it and people will go.”

Nope. I know exactly how I lost my friends.

Three years ago, I started a business. If you haven’t done it before, I will give you a brief synopsis of what it’s like: it’s a lot of work.

Three months ago, I went to a trade show, and after a meeting, a woman leaned over and asked, “How old are you?” I thought she asked this because I was younger than most people at the trade show and owned a million dollar business. I responded, “Twenty-seven, but this business has given me a few wrinkles on my face!” She nodded enthusiastically and said, “Yes, definitely!”

And that lady probably has no friends, but for an entirely different reason than I do.

I don’t have friends because I stopped caring about my friends. I put what was happening in my life over what was happening in theirs. They’d ask if I wanted to meet them for drinks. “Can’t,” I’d text back. “Gotta work on my business ☹”. They’d call and leave voicemails that I’d never return. They’d send me an email telling me that their beloved grandfather died and they were really struggling and missed him every single day. I never responded. I was too busy.

No. That last one actually didn’t happen. Well, it kind of happened. A few weeks ago, I sent an email to my friend to let her know that my beloved grandfather died and I was so sad and I didn't know I could ever miss someone so much. My friend didn’t respond to my email.

And that was the moment when I realized I didn’t have friends.

If you’re a good friend, people respond to that email. They call you up and say, “Are you okay?” They send flowers.

So the big lesson I’ve learned at age 27 is… that I’m a terrible person because I’ve been a terrible friend. No, just kidding. Absolutely not! What I’ve learned is a lesson about sacrifice. I chose my business over my friends. I made that choice. Everything you do in life involves a sacrifice.

If you respond to that email, you can’t get started on that business. If you go out for drinks, you may not write that book. People always want to glamorize people who are successful and very rarely recognize the sacrifices they make to get there.

I don’t think anyone “has it all”. Maybe the best you can have in life is a feeling that you’ve made the right sacrifices. I didn’t call my friends back. But no matter how busy I was with my business, I always called my grandfather. I always went to visit. I always stayed for as long as I could and afterwards, I always wrote down his stories.

For three months, my grandfather has been gone. For three years, my friends have gone. Did I make the right sacrifices? I don’t know.

I just know I miss one a lot more than the other.

PS. I always said that if I won the Listserve I’d ask for a pen pal. I didn’t know what else I would write alongside it, but this piece will probably weed out a lot of people. If you’re interested, please send me an email and maybe we can be (pen) pals!

Montclair, NJ
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