Lonely at the top

On losing friends

Welcome to Unsetting Expectations—a newsletter for high-performing, high-achieving, perfectionist workaholics grappling with issues of never feeling satisfied, always working crazy long hours, and not feeling proud of their accomplishments, written by Franka Grubisic.

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Note: All of my writing is published unedited, & for a reason. I want you to experience my exact, raw thought process as this ensures that you get the most open, true & honest version of me at all times. I only have one rule when writing: the pen never stops touching the paper.


People get excited by people with high energy and big ambition. They gather around you wanting a hit of “whatever it is you’re on”. And you’re high on work—and working towards your dreams.

I think there are 3 kinds of people who you will encounter in your journey to greatness (whatever that means for you).

  1. the ones that are so jealous of you that they will ignore you and your work,

  2. the ones that will want to feed off your energy and catch a glimpse of ambition,

  3. your true friends who’ll help you and support you in times good and bad.

Today, I want to speak about the second group.

In my first year of Uni, I was very mission-driven. A student of geospatial engineering, who in retrospect, wanted to make it more user-centric. The majority of my projects had that as their main goal.

I wrote articles, scientific papers, projects, and conference applications. I’ve won grants, awards, and scholarships.

And I’ve had an initial group of friends who’d follow me around, help in project delivery I enjoyed being a part of something greater than simply being a student.

Until it became too much. Until my greatness and ambition outgrew both their comfort zone and minds. By that point - we were pretty good friends, or at least I thought so. Wanting to share my joy about receiving an award, and getting a long-paused, loud-swallow type of response with an insincere “congratulations” should have been my first clue. But it wasn’t, because I always tend to see the good in people.

And as I continued to make my way through ideas that’d make life on Earth more enjoyable, they started drifting away. Helping less. Calling less. Coming up to chat in the hallway less. Being in my life less.

It’s been almost 5 years, and now we’re almost like perfect strangers. I’ve tried to (naively) make contact throughout the years but was never made welcome to talk freely and openly about what’s going on in my life—because, for them, it made them feel less than.

I was sad that this was happening because the only thing I ever did and wanted to do was lift others up. I’ve felt like I personally failed in doing so. It took me a while to unset that expectation for myself.

Spring of last year, when my entire world seemed to be falling apart, for a reason I can’t quite remember, I was chatting to one of those old friends and I have shared how I feel—that I was having a tough time. Their comment was something along the lines of: “See, it wasn’t necessary to try to prove yourself all the time”.

To whom? I was solely following my heart’s desires and enjoying myself every step of the way.

That sentence felt like they were waiting for the day things will start going south for me. Like they were relieved by my ‘failure’. It seemed that, even though they never had the same aspirations like I did, they still wish they did. So when my plans failed, they felt better about themselves.

That was the day I learned:

You can only lift others up to how high they want to go.


If this issue has inspired you to explore your relationships in some way, do let me know by replying to this email or:

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📢 Next issue, we're welcoming a special guest

The benefits of talking about perfectionism, expectations, and a sense of worth are greater when coming from a range of perspectives. That’s why I'm thrilled to announce Unsetting Expectations’ first upcoming guest post!

Our first guest will talk to us about the dynamic of perfectionism in work environments! It’s a super interesting conversation which I’m excited to bring to you.

From now on, every 2nd issue of the newsletter will feature a special guest. Don’t forget to sign up to join the journey if you haven’t already by hitting the button below ⤵️

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Lastly, if you are willing, you can support me in the writings of this newsletter by buying me a doughnut 🍩. Why a doughnut, you may ask? Well, in my native language, 'doughnut' is spelled: 'krafna', which makes it an anagram of my name; Franka. And if there was such a thing as a power animal, but for food, I'd be a doughnut.

A warm thank you to Klara who has gotten me a doughnut for the previous issue!

Take good care and have a lovely week, until next time 💛

Love,

Franka