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When the Going Gets Tough...

By Jamie Rodney

It’s been one of those weeks. Nothing seems to be going right. Things that really should be easy have become suddenly complex, things that should only have been minor setbacks have become big problems. If you’ll excuse the appalling mixed metaphor, it feels like an uphill struggle that’s also going downhill.

Of course, as someone wise once said, it’s how we react to these situations that define us as people. I would love to say that I heroically rose to the occasion, taking these difficulties in my stride and eventually overcoming them, becoming a better person in the process.

But I didn’t. In fact, I spent roughly 48 hours coming up with a story about how my toaster had exploded, taking my laptop with it in an inferno of fire and breadcrumbs, which I could have an excuse to give Sam about why I hadn’t written an article for this week, other than pure exhaustion. (In my defence, it was a very entertaining story. Also in my defence, I’m definitely being the bigger man putting this on public record, so I can never use this entirely plausible story as an excuse for anything.) As you can tell from the fact you’re reading this, I ended up not using my toaster excuse, and instead submitting this article. Not because I’m a great blogger, or even a decent human being (I’m neither), but because weasling out of doing my job- with all it’s associated risks to my already threadbare reputation for reliability. And, more importantly, I think (hope) that this blog serves a reasonably useful function, and it would need a better reason than my laziness to stop providing it.

Why do I bring this up? Partly, to be fair, as an extended whinge about life (I’d be stinting my duty as a young adult with a blog if I didn’t write at least one of those, check out my tumblr for more in that vein*), but also because I think there’s a serious point to be made here.

Sometimes, in relationship, things are difficult. It becomes exhausting, maybe even stressful, to put in the effort required to keep it going. Maybe it’s long distance. Maybe your friends have annoying habits. Maybe you’re starting to realise that they’re different people from when you met them. Maybe you’re starting to realise that you are, too. At times like this, it can seem tempting to simply go through the motions of a friendship. To give them the bare minimum of your attention required to stop a falling-out, but nothing else.

However, that’s never helped anyone in the long run. It’s stressful (not to mention hurtful) for both you and the other people in your relationship. Instead, try asking yourself one question: Is this friendship rewarding, or toxic?

If the answer is the latter, then cut them out of your life. If it’s the former, then it’s not worth throwing away over one rough patch. And if you can’t decide, then the easiest way to make up your mind is to keep on trying to make it work.

Now, obviously, sometimes that’s not possible- we’ve a lot of demands on our time, and it’s not always justifiable to ignore them in order to focus on our relationships. And, just as obviously, there’s no one-size fits all pattern that can be applied to every single friendship. But- and this is important, more often than not, more thought and effort can be all that’s needed when things get tough.

Because friendships need work. Relationships can’t be taken for granted. And all the exploding toasters in the world can change that fact.

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