I have always been an over-giver. This is not a good quality, necessarily. I tend to give way too much, to volunteer to do too many favors, and I end up burning myself out in the process. Eventually I started realizing I was doing this for a lot of people who’d never do the same for me. I put so much effort into seeing people’s plays and going to their birthday parties and sending a congratulatory note when something great happened for them, but those people weren’t reciprocating those gestures.
One of the biggest lessons in self-preservation and preventing burnout is this: I don’t have time any more for people who don’t support me. I’ve spent too much time dating and befriending people who can’t find it in themselves to enjoy my success, or who can’t sympathize with my struggles, and honestly? That’s just not compelling. I have had too many friends begrudge me for successes that they wanted for themselves, or get annoyed that I don’t want to come to their large crowded event because crowds are scary and I get panic attacks sometimes. That sucks! I used to feel like I had to try to be friends with everyone, like if a friendship wasn’t working, or I wasn’t getting what I needed, maybe it was somehow my fault. But as I’ve gotten older I have found a group of people who actually work at maintaining relationships: I have friends who make it a point to make plans, who check in on me and my projects, who go out of their way to support my work and congratulate me on good news. I have an amazing boyfriend who supports me in anxious patches, instead of being annoyed at them.
I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I’m not interested in people who aren’t interested in me. Some people aren’t! It’s not their fault but it’s also not mine. And it’s just not worth it trying to convince them that they should support me like I would support them. When those people fall out of your life, it makes room for people who want to support you, who find you interesting and exciting and enjoy listening to you discuss your weird intense passions. (Shout out to everyone who has ever listened to me deliver a lecture on the cultural significance of “Teen Beach Movie,” Disney Channel’s unacknowledged masterpiece.) And then you are less wiped out because you’re not investing in a one-sided relationship, and you can spend all that extra energy on yourself, instead of throwing it at people who will never fully appreciate it.