“The light that fuelled our fire then has burned a hole between us so
We cannot see to reach an end crippling our communication.” – Tool
Why is it that our inner circles grow significantly smaller with time?
I’ve spent some years giving this reasonable thought. Sometimes to the point of abrogating all logic and rationale, and taking things so personally that you aren’t looking at the bigger picture per se, but rather a distorted kaleidoscopic piece of the entire whole.
Why is it that you have those who will sing and dance, laugh and cry, fight and cheer for you, and encourage and motivate you for many years, suddenly fall off the grid, step out of your life, and go AWOL, vanishing into the ether?
Have you ever wondered why people grow distant when you reach a certain juncture in your life?
Does it bode contemplation as to why people change? What triggers it? Where the stimulus and need for change comes from?
Remember a time when your successes and triumphs meant more people surrounding you, associating with you and yearning to be by your side?
Remember a time when things got so bad and abysmally bleak that life hit bottom-feeder low and not a soul – save for your closest – would be seen in broad daylight next to you?
We’ve all been there right? At any one or more of the above-mentioned situations, finding ourselves to be the crow left or right of the murder – asking ourselves “what the hell did I do wrong?”
Thing is…it could be you. Chances are it might not have anything to do with you either.
Take it a few steps further and give the compass dagger a spin so it points at you. What if you need to be the change you wish to see in your life and others can’t quite deal with it? What then?
The righteous path
A person’s journey is a complex thing. A series of meandering and winding pathways, sometimes with obstacles and hurdles galore, other times with only mirages as far as the eyes can see and no real destination in sight…Sometimes the path is clear, but the journey is arduous and long. Sometimes the destination is in sight, but the road leads somewhere else.
Yet through our life’s endeavours we will experience that many are those who will join us along the way, a majority who will choose to drop off and some who will be by your side for a while before either changing their minds or reaching a point of self-actualisation that they themselves need to find their own path in life.
This is inevitable. It cannot be prevented.
The people who will flitter in and out of your life will be considerable, not unlike moths to a proverbial flame.
This will happen at certain periods and points of your existence, you’ll see peaks and dips.
Three sides to every story and two sides to every coin
It’s not always high treason or betrayal you know; an Ides of March or a Judas Kiss scenario. Though it certainly feels like that at the time when you are suddenly left dazed and confused, alone and befuddled, abandoned and isolated.
Okay so it probably never is quite that bad. But what if it is?
What if these are people who you’ve let into your personal space; your mind, heart, intimate surroundings? Those you’ve trusted and been loyal to and you find that after many years, the sentiments aren’t reciprocated?
People sometimes grow apart from each other. The gap widens as we continue on our individual paths.
Perhaps we need to remind ourselves that there are three sides to every story and two sides to every coin.
Therefore when evaluating this, we need to do so with a greater level of perspicacity.
People are social and tribal creatures as I’ve mentioned previously. They will gather and are drawn towards where their personal interests lie, their curiosity is piqued, the good and fun times roll, and where acceptance and affability is prevalent, that some degree of extrapolation is paramount.
Usually a change of habits, behaviour, and even a change of environment/conditions can be difficult in terms of adaptability. We talk about change, about progress, and growth and evolution.
But we are often reticent and hesitant when it comes to change. Change, you see, isn’t easy, because it threatens our peace of mind and comfort zone. It thwarts our safety and security in complacent fortitude. It will ruffle our feathers, rattle our cages, and make us question our subjective value systems, our need to readapt and realign, the conscientious duty to make harder choices if not for the right reasons – for the greater good of the clan, of the satrapy, unit, team, family, and self.
This means breaking down the sand castle, smashing down the building block effigies, and taking things to the drawing board.
That’s a pretty big burden. Especially for people who have gotten complacent and used to a certain way of thinking, behaving, of belonging, and surviving day to day.
Catalysts for change
What are those life-altering moments where change occurs?
The love debacle. In Sri Lanka, it’s often when someone finds a partner; a boyfriend or a girlfriend. Oh, come off it. We’ve seen it more times than we wish to admit. The two smitten lovers, taking the very yoke of the world upon their love worn shoulders. The “us vs. them” ideology where the moment romance blossoms some individuals forget their lifelong friends, family, and all else – sometimes for a while, sometimes to the point of no return.
Then there are the karma chameleons. Those who change based on the fluctuations of their status scenario. New job. New designation. New circle of colleagues and peers. One needs to step up his/her game and maintain appearances. The “it’s time for a social circle facelift” crowd.
The “new money’” segment. This concept of old money vs. new money is an actual thing. In my experience people who come from places of great privilege and heritage don’t spend their time, egos, and moments trying to broadcast and brandish their positions of wealth. On the other hand, there are some who cannot handle a sudden influx of riches. You see it in the celebrity world.
Power slave. What about those who are new to power and influence? The ones who flaunt it like it’s the equivalent to a career defining academic or professional achievement. But as they say more power, more problems.
Fame. Many are those who change as their popularity grows. They will seek validation with those of a similar status of stardom and renown.
The good charlatans. We’ve seen people develop a holier-than-thou ethos and suddenly nearly everyone else is beneath them. The piously hardwired crusaders who parade with the “I am saved-you are not” saviour complex issuing judgment unto every fern, fauna, and sapien they encounter. These are not balanced, well-nuanced beings who practice their creed with compassion, love, tolerance, and forgiveness. This is the other lot. The zealots of smug pomposity. Nothing makes a person change like being religiously unhinged.
There are many who battle their personal demons daily, under their own skin, behind the edifices and constructions of outer wall perceptions that things are rosy, peachy, and fine. But within things are not.
They may need to make crucial changes to their lifestyles and lives to better face their predicaments. Those with addictions, mental and physical health struggles, depression, work drama, family and marital problems, and social awkwardness may cut off from clicks and distance themselves in order to find some order within the bedlam. Making positive changes to one’s life can really make a world of difference. That means you need to weed out the toxic people in your life. That may mean you need to stop letting yourself be in toxic situations and in toxic environments.
There are moments then in life where making necessary, sometimes abrupt or drastic changes are integral for self-growth and evolution.
You’ll find that taking small steps towards achieving bigger strides towards self-actualisation and wellbeing can be a difficult thing, as it separates you from the popular vein. When all jocularity, reckless abandon fun and games are replaced with a modicum of responsibility and accountability, harnessing your wit, and nurturing your capabilities and core competencies to become a much better version of yourself…This can embitter others, spawning apathy, and indifference.
Which is fine.
Your inner circles and ring of friends may grow significantly smaller as you start to make choices that are culminative of your trajectory of growth – no matter how infinitesimal, your levels of productivity, acuity, and assuredness have potential to flourish, you can be happier, achieve your vision and goals in life, and ride above mediocrity towards something greater. Which means you need to aim higher for yourself, and it’s okay if you fall short of your ideals.
Start somewhere, anywhere. Be your greatest critique. But also be your most trusted ally.
Mayhap with age it is prudent not to build expectations of your self worth upon how others perceive you, but rather ascertain your self value based on your own dreams, needs, passions, purpose, and things that give you meaning and a sense of completion.
Trust yourself to take the higher road, fixing your own life and be the arbiter of change you need to be for yourself.
There’ll be a precious few who stand by you once the results start to show. Through the good times and bad. Through the trials, tribulations, and tempests. Through the triumphs and self-growth.
Those are the keepers.
Keep them close. Cherish them forever.
Just remember even when it comes to change, there are two sides to every coin and three sides to every story.
Suresh de Silva is the frontman and lyricist of Stigmata, a creative consultant and brand strategist by profession, a self-published author and poet, thespian, animal rescuer, podcaster, and fitness enthusiast.
The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of this publication.