Failing At Friendship

I am not good at being bad at things. One day, my coworkers created a game that involved throwing playing cards into holes hanging on the wall (it was a slow day). We were all pretty bad at it. Everyone quickly got bored and returned to work. I, however, spent hours tossing cards at that stupid thing. When my arm began to ache, I switched to lefty. Failure is something I have trouble accepting and despite what Apollo 13 says, I have always felt failure is an option, one I don’t much like to explore.

I view friendships in the same way. I want to be good at them. I want to be the enemy of your enemies, the keeper of your secrets and the bringer of your ice cream. I want to be the best friend you’ve ever had and I always thought if I worked hard enough, friendships would last forever. The thought of looking back at an old photo and seeing someone I “used to” be friends with is, to me, failing at friendship. I therefore, have spent years of my life doing everything I can to preserve friendships. I gave and gave, often getting little in return. I allowed people to treat me poorly with the rationalization that they were just having a bad day or were insecure. I avoided confrontation like the plague, so as to not upset anyone. Simply put: I became a pushover. I didn’t want to admit failing, so I allowed people to take advantage of my friendship.

However, in the midst of a Quarter Life Crisis, where I am being forced to evaluate what is important to me, I have come to the conclusion that it is okay to fail at certain friendships. I have spent far too long allowing myself to be dumped on by people in order to avoid losing them as friends. I realize that it is better to confront your friends and risk losing them than allow them to continually hurt you. The ones that are meant to stick around will. In fact, those friendships will actually grown stronger as a result of this honesty. The people who don’t care enough about you enough to put in the effort will merely dissolve from your life like Top Model cast offs.

I look back at photos of people I “used to” be friends with and no longer see failure, but growth. Each friendship has taught me something about myself and I am grateful for that. Not all friendships are meant to last forever. Sometimes people come into your life and drift out and that’s okay. Hopefully, at the end of the day what you’re left with is a group of people who love you and support you. I am grateful to have so many awesome people in my life and now that I’m not lugging around so much pent up animosity I have more happiness to share with them. It took me far longer than it should have, but I’ve finally figured out that friendship is a quality not quantity kind of game, one of which I am actually pretty good at after all.

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  • Jenny Lonussen

    I’ve failed many things in my life (like tests in school, hah) and I’m not all that ambitious (altho when I do sink my teeth into something, watch out :-) ). But I’ve always had difficulty with failing friends(ships), to me it always felt failing as a person. I’m also slowly coming to the conclusion that it’s ok, that it’s growth. I guess finding and recognizing the right friends helped with that.
    Anyways that’s my long-ass way of saying, I enjoyed reading this and good luck with the friendship game :-)

    • Nicole Paulhus

      Thanks! You too!

  • Elise Woods

    I really needed to read this. This article came at a very, very good time. Thanks.

    • Nicole Paulhus


  • Jessica Vignola

    I was always the type of person that felt like being a good friend was sticking around no matter what; even if certain friends dumped their problems on me. I felt like I was being a good friend for listening and not realizing that my kindness was being taken advantage. Eventually I made the connection and certain friendships ended. Like you, I have realized that these situations don’t come from a point of failure, but of growth. Thank you for this article and good luck as you continue to learn and grow.

    • Nicole Paulhus

      Thanks, you too!

  • Aida Nurin Sh’ari

    can i reblog this?

    • Nicole Paulhus


  • Liz Haebe

    I’m realizing this about myself too. The friends who float in and out of your life are fine, but if they don’t last, it’s not a failure, and not because I didn’t do the ‘work’ I was supposed to do. Awesome piece!

  • Laura Owen

    This is amazing — one of those things that is like, “Did you get this directly from my brain?”

  • Elisabeth Miller

    So true, so true. Thank you.

  • Kelly Matthyssens

    I feel like quoting this entire article. This couldn’t have come at a better time in my life. Now, excuse me while I save this article on my laptop somewhere so I can remind myself of the truth in this from time to time.

  • Randi Carlson

    I laughed through this article (funny girl!) only to feel the exact same about how friendships work. I love when someone can take thoughts I have (or similar thoughts) and put them into words- lord knows I can’t ever find the right ones.

  • Lisa Landgraf

    woah. i just came to this exact realization this year.
    for me the whole pushover thing is still a work in progress.

  • Jenn Stanwick

    You’re the best kind of friend Miss Nicole Paulhus! :)

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