Growth

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I can't lie. I am terrified of the future. I'm a planner and I like to be prepared for what is to come. I don't like surprises but for once in my life I have no idea how my life will pan out.

For years I had a life plan. I'd finish school, complete my law degree, work in a law firm, get married and have children. Yup, the whole packaged cliché. But since I dropped my corporate career a year ago, things are less black and white.  

I'm now a Trainee Journalist at a top regional newspaper, a role I never thought I'd see myself in. I'm finally writing for a living - a hobby of mine since I could read and write - and I love it. I'm finally in a fulfilling career that excites me every day, so much so I am jumping out of bed at 4am each morning to get to work.  

But something is missing. I haven't ran properly in over a year due to injury, I'm no longer singing because I don't have time and I barely see my friends - that's if I have any real friends left.  

When I started my journalism career I undertook a 20-week intensive course - the course that would later see me qualify as a fully fledged journalist. After all I had given up - the corporate career, the large pay cheques every month, the holidays, the lifestyle - I couldn't fuck this up. So I threw myself into it. I was strict on my social outings. I refused to be sidetracked or distracted or misled. I thought 20 weeks would be fine to just put my head down and get on with it. After all, my friends were extremely supportive of me during my darkest and lowest periods.

But what I've discovered recently upon hindsight is that those exact friends seemed to have forgotten me over the last six months. I don't get invited out anymore, no one texts or calls or so much as responds to me. It's almost as if during that period everyone else moved on.  

I spoke to somebody the other day about the possibility of moving country. I asked whether leaving behind your friends, your family, your job and your life would be difficult. They told me that when and if you move country for x amount of years, everyone will stay the same and will still be talking about the same things as when you left. It's interesting because in my case after being a hermit for five months it's as though I did leave the country and everyone else moved on.  

In the circles I once felt comfortable in, I now feel most anxious. And I'm not entirely sure how to change that. I've seen my social anxiety get worse this year and I guess the only way I've coped with it is to spend more time alone. It doesn't help that I've had the worst luck this year with numerous incidents happening. I've experienced more emotional distress than I've let on. But who can I honestly talk to about this? A shrink? 

Perhaps it's a good time to get my head down and really put work into something I've made sacrifices for. Only I can achieve the goals I've made, only I can reap the benefits of my hard work and only I can make those changes. 

I remember my parents moaning to me during my school days that I constantly put my friends before my grades. Rather than studying, I'd be on the phone chatting to friends, having sleepovers, gossiping. I never understood my parents back then but I do now.

My friends aren't going to write my articles or conduct interviews. My friends aren't going to negotiate a better job or salary for me. Only I can do that. Friends are friends and they are great and their support is important. But sadly, if you don't choose the right ones, they come and go.  

Thankfully I learnt, admittedly only a few years ago, that I don't need millions of friends. I'm happy counting my friends on one hand especially if I know they are loyal, supportive and respectful.

So the moral I've learnt is: don't chase after 'friends' who don't bother asking you if you're ok. Those friends who are always with you, even if you disappear off the grid for a while, are the keepers.