Dear Fake Friends from My Past:
When I walked away from a successful career three years ago, you thought I was crazy. Even crazier when I said I wanted to cultivate my passion, pursue my dream: writing. It’s all right, there’s no need to deny it now: save your apologies—I’m not looking for one.
Scores of you, my ostensible friends, talked behind my back. The grapevine is not self-contained, so, yes, I heard the terrible things you said about me. You said I was dumb, out of touch, too idealistic. You gossiped, you told people I’d lost my mind. I was an idiot, you said. Lost—I’d be broke and alone in no time.
It was upsetting—gut-wrenching and heartrending—to hear the vitriol. I thought you were different. I thought we were different. I thought we were friends.
You, my lip-service friends, told me it was impossible. If people could make a living from their passions, you said, then everyone would be doing it. I was making a mistake, a horrible decision. I’d regret giving up the money, the status, the ostensible success. My plan would never work.
It’s evident now you were projecting your own fears, hoping I would fail so your flawed idea of success would remain unblemished.
I don’t regret it, my change in lifestyle: It all worked out. And then some. My life is better now. Substantially better. Be it money, passion, health, growth, contribution—my life has improved exponentially. Even my friends are better.
My real friends—although they may’ve not fully understood my decision at the time—supported me through the transition. Real support. They encouraged me, cheered me on, offered help when I needed it. It took this radical change to recognize my real friends—and to recognize those just hanging on because I had an impressive job title or the shiny things they wanted.
Without the facade of a big paycheck or an oversized house, I made new friends: people whose interests, values, and beliefs align with mine. Wonderful people who care about me for me, not for what’s printed on my business card.
You can’t change the people around you, but you can change the people around you.
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