Want Less Anxiety? Have Fewer Friends
If you want less anxiety, one of the best ways to achieve that is to have fewer friends. I can imagine many of you will think I’m completely misguided – I hope that, by the end of this post, I can at least get you to see where I’m coming from. I wouldn’t be advocating for such a position if I didn’t think that having fewer friends created less anxiety.
I Have Fewer Friends and Less Anxiety
I don’t have a lot of friends, and that’s by choice: it creates less anxiety for me. There are many other reasons for not having a lot of friends: for one, I’m naturally an introvert and enjoy spending time by myself. Also, being anxious means I need to devote a lot more time to self-care – my anxiety is exacerbated by being around others, so to manage it I’ll listen to music or watch a movie in my room alone. This helps me more than about anything else.
Does not having a lot of friends bother me? Of course not – if it did, I wouldn’t choose such a life for myself. While it’s true that my list of friends may not be the most extensive, what I have instead is a tight-knit group who knows me really well, who I love unconditionally, who I can count on for anything and everything ("Having Real Friends and Your Self-Esteem"). That, to me, means everything, and results in less anxiety for me.
How to Positively Redefine Friendship
To have such a small group of friends is, for many of us, antithetical to what we naturally look for. I think social media has exaggerated this mindset – there’s now, more than perhaps ever before, intense cultural pressure to inflate one’s “friends list.” As if your existence somehow receives greater validation by obtaining more friends, followers, pick whatever web 2.0 buzzword you will.
It almost makes me angry that I even have to make this point, but I guess this is where we are as a culture: friendship is not a numbers game. The success or failure of friendship is dependent on one thing and one thing alone: the quality of the bond between the two friends. You can have 100,000 people you consider friends or followers or what have you, but if they aren’t going to be there for you in any substantial way, calling them a "friend" is somewhat of a misnomer ("Do You Keep the Right Kinds of Friends?").
Think about your friends, and ask yourself these questions:
- If you were in trouble at some ungodly hour of the night, would they bail you out?
- If you told them your greatest secrets, would they pass judgment?
- If you helped them out of a jam, would you expect, or demand, anything in return?
If you didn’t respond "yes," "no," and "no" to the above questions, think about your friends again and consider if they’re really your friends at all.
Many of my friends have been my friends since elementary school, and that in itself causes less anxiety for me. I’ve known them for almost my whole life, and will, god willing, continue to know them until I die. Honestly, knowing that does more to lessen my anxiety than perhaps anything else on Earth, because I know, no matter how bad things get, there are people who will always have my back. They are not badges denoting any sort of social media cred. They’re true friends, in the most fundamental sense of the word. If you don’t have that, actively seek it out ("How Do You Make Friends with Someone?"). Like I said, perhaps nothing else you do to have less anxiety will benefit you in a greater way than this.
DeSalvo, T. (2019, January 30). Want Less Anxiety? Have Fewer Friends, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, August 21 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2019/1/want-less-anxiety-have-fewer-friends