Learning to let go of people, relationships

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There’s a theory that was developed by motivational speaker Jim Rohn that you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with. When I first heard this theory about a year ago, two thoughts occurred to me. First, I wondered if I even had more than five people in my life whom I regularly talk to. Then, I began to panic as I failed to count to five people, thus catalyzing a downward spiral of existentialism. Mind you, we were in the middle of a pandemic, so most of us weren’t seeing people outside of our household, but still, the thought scared me.

More than anything, the theory made me contemplate the kinds of people I had surrounded myself with in the past, and whom I wanted to surround myself with looking forward. I saw the quarantine period as a time to reevaluate not only my closest five people, but the kind of person I wanted to become. Was this person I was striving to become supported by the current people in my life? What kinds of influences were these people having on me? Were we only friends because we had been friends for years? If I met my friends for the first time tomorrow, would we even become friends? I came to the difficult realization that most of the people in my life were hurting me rather than helping. I simply kept them in my bubble because it was easy — because they had always been there. But just because something has always been, doesn’t mean it always should be. So, for a short period, I spoke to very few people and devoted myself to growing strong relationships with my family and closest friends before going off to college for the first time. More than anything, I became my own best friend. 

Maybe you’ve heard of this idea and this is just my freshman naivete, but maybe you haven’t. Nevertheless, I encourage you to also evaluate the kinds of people you currently surround yourself with and the person you are becoming. If you’re one of the lucky few that has a rock-solid group of people, good for you! But if you’re struggling a bit like me, you’re not alone. Right before coming to college, I lost and ended a lot of relationships that I thought would last forever. Thinking about it now, it was as if I was given a clean slate to finally, for the first time in my life, choose who comes into my world. In retrospect, that has been one of my greatest blessings. So if you’re afraid to let go, I urge you to try. I can’t promise that it won’t feel painstakingly lonely, but it’s so worth it. I’ve been on campus for almost two months now, and I’ve created relationships with people that fulfill me in ways that my friends I had for years never did. And I don’t think these relationships would’ve been possible had I not let go of the version of myself and the people that were holding me back. 

So whatever phase you’re in, whether you’re just coming to terms with the icky feeling you have when you hang out with your “friends,” or you’re beginning to open yourself up to new relationships, keep going. This process never ends, and it certainly doesn’t end in college — it only begins here.

Contact Paloma Torres at [email protected].