Relationships: Quality over Quantity
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 37 seconds
So you know how they say: “when you don’t know what to write about, just start typing and don’t stop.” Fair enough. That’s what I’ll do. (Note: this whole post was written in one setting, without review or anything like that. Just words as they kept coming
Well, today’s the day of my birthday celebration. I’ve got plenty of friends coming, both old and new. However, I feel like these not nearly as many or as good friends as on last year’s party. I may be wrong, but man, buildig a social circle is tough when you work full-time or more.
Building a social circle vs. working full-time
Let’s first back up. Rewind one year. I’m in the final push of my studies, writing my bachelor’s thesis. Aside of that, I just finished leading a students’ organization with roughly 100 students. Moreover, I’m playing Lacrosse in the biggest Lacrosse club of Germany, with more than 100 men and women each being members. Aside of that, I work part-time at Flixbus, which has a tremendous intern turnover, thus always bringing in new contacts. Needless to saya, getting to know people was the easiest thing in the world.
Then, in November, I moved to Frankfurt. Wherever I had gone before, getting to know people was easy. I’m an extrovert, I’m not afraid of chatting up people and doing crazy stuff. Here, however, it was a different game. I joined a start-up. Those of you who have worked in really small startups before, know exactly that free time isn’t exactly part of your daily schedule. It’s hard work, but it’s well worth it. The only thing is – you spend a shitton of time with very few, awesome people.
I also joined the local Lacrosse team and chatted up some old friends from school living in the area. I started swiping on Tinder. And all the sudden I had a pretty decent network – but compared to what I had in Munich, it was still tiny. Of course, time makes everything better, but this was a different situation. Something happened to me that had never happened to me before: it was Saturday night, I wanted to go out but nobody else I knew wanted to. Going out alone? No fucking way. At least not if I don’t have a favorite place. The clubs in Frankfurt are tailored towards bankers and consultants, which aren’t exactly the type of people I usually hang out with. So I stayed at home and felt lonely.
I felt miserable. Alone in the world. All my other friends are scattered across the globe – nobody was in Frankfurt. That feeling was scary. Because I had never had it before. And then I slowly began to realize …
All the time I had constantly surrounded myself with people, I was running away from myself. Running away from my fears, my insecurities, my true self. It’s hard to think about yourself when you always have your friends around you. And yet, the time that you spend alone is the time of personal growth. So laying in bed and thinking, I decided to spend some more time alone.
Fast forward to June 2017. I’m traveling the Dominican Republic, and I’m completely on my own. No travel companions. No friends that I was visiting. Just me against the world. I went to the beach alone, had lunch alone, spent some time on my own reading and then had dinner without anybody else to talk to. Sounds miserable? You’d think that. But instead, it was FUCKING AWESOME. I was able to think the thoughts that I wanted (or didn’t want, but had to) think. To read the books I’ve always wanted to read. To do whatever the fuck I wanted to, even if that meant going to bed at 9pm on a Saturday night. Nobody was there to say, “duude it’s Saturday, we gotta go out”. And that was totally fine.
A wise man once said “success means that you’re able to sit somewhere alone not doing anything for 30 minutes”. (Seriously, I just cannot find the person who said that. But I pondered that quote a lot). In June, I got a lot closer to that “success”. Being alone is not about being abandoned, about being left out by your friends. No, it’s what you make of it. So depending on the way you look at things, it can either be miserable or beautiful. I choose the latter.
Being alone has many perks. For instance, I would never get my writing done if I was constantly with people. I wouldn’t be able to think real deep thoughts with people around me. And I wouldn’t be able to let emotions flow freely with other people around me (although that’s more of a me thing, as I tend to not either have or show emotions).
Back to Frankfurt. I moved in with two of my colleagues from the company. Now, we’re more than a married couple. A married couple sees each other every day in the morning and at night, and on weekends. We spend 24/7 within 10 meters of each other. And when I say 24/7, I mean twenty-four fucking seven. Instead of going out to meet new people, we just spend time with each other. The conversations never get boring. We’ll call each other when we haven’t seen each other in a couple days.
My network is totally okay. I’ve met plenty of awesome people here, yet it’s still nowhere near the size of my Munich network. And that’s totally okay. Because in the end, it’s not about the quantity of the people in your life – it’s about the quality of the relationships. That’s something I by no means can complain about. Not even a bit.
I’ve also realized that it doesn’t matter where in this world your friends are or how often you see them. Whenever we see each other, it’s just like it’s always been – despite not having met in more than a year. On my birthday, I received so many messages that came from the heart (and a lot that came from the Facebook reminder). I was full of thankfulness for all these awesome people in my life, all over the world. For the guys I’m living and working with, for all my boys and girls in Frankfurt, in Germany, Europe, USA, all over the world. My readers, too, as the blog has started to grow that people that I don’t even know are reading it (if you’re one of them – holy shit, you’re fucking awesome!).
It’s about the quality of your relationships. Screw quantity. Because if you’re really passionate about maintaining great relationships with people, the quantity will come automatically – or it just won’t matter. Either way, you’ll be happy. And then, being alone at times is totally okay.
But now … it’s not the time to be alone. It’s time to hit the supermarket to get a ton of beers. It’s time to party. Maybe even building some new, great relationships.
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