This article was originally written for The Clutch SC. A special thank you to this online publication for allowing me to speak openly. This subject is in response to a reader’s question.
Friendship. One of the hardest subjects I will ever broach. But a reader wanted to know, and I felt like I was physically and mentally called to talk about this subject, as difficult as it may be.
And why is it difficult? Probably because I thought I would have grasped the concept at the age of 28. But I am far from understanding.
Growing up, we moved around a lot. Where I spent kindergarten was not the place I spent elementary school. The place I spent elementary school was not the place I spent middle school. And when I finished middle school, it was another change before graduation. It wasn’t as if you just switched to a different neighborhood, but still knew some faces. I knew no one. I started over. And over. And over. When maid of honors stand up at weddings to give their speech and introduce themselves as the childhood best friend of the bride, it still saddens me. I never had that. And I never will. I was forever trying to break into a circle of already established friends. Wondering who would stand up and speak on my behalf when I got married. If anyone.
I wasn’t a shy kid, but it can be intimidating especially at those milestone ages where you couldn’t feel more awkward. It didn’t help when I was shamed in middle school by the other girls for my looks and getting good grades. Which now looking back, was completely irrational. Not for them harassing me, but for me getting upset. Kids will be kids, but that doesn’t have to control my feelings. If you want to make fun of how I look, then don’t look at me. No one is forcing you. And being smart? Who makes fun of people for being intelligent? Oh yeah. People that aren’t. Smirking face emoji and we’re moving on.
I have been burned many times by friendship. Those kids that tormented me? They were once my friends. And left me with no one in the eighth grade. The same happened in college when I was written about on an anonymous website and then portions were taken down when I got upset with one of my close friends. Hmmm.
Friendship is hard. Because things like jealousy, insecurity and competitiveness rear their ugly head and get in the way. No one is immune to these feelings. We all experience the wrath in different forms. And I’m not sure that I am an expert at friendship in any way, but I can share with you my stories at the age of 28.
At the end of the day, all any of us want is to be fully known. And for that fully known person to be fully loved. Fully accepted. Fully cherished for the person that they are. But we tend to hide that person because we’re scared of not being held tighter, but instead pushed to the side. So we aren’t real. And we don’t go deep.
I am going to pull some excerpts from a book that I have clung to my side for the past month. I usually don’t take that long to read one book, but when every word is this good, I want to underline every sentence and dog ear every page.
“I lay down my fears about others walking away and taking their love with them.
I lay down my desire to prove my worth.
I lay down my resistance to fully trust Your thoughts, Your ways, and Your plans, Lord.
I lay down being so self-consumed in an attempt to protect myself.
I lay down my anger, unforgiveness, and stubborn ways that beg me to build walls when I sense hints of rejection.
I lay all these things down with my broken boards and ask that Your holy fire consume them until they become weightless ashes.
And as I walk away, my soul feels safe. Held. And truly free to finally be me.”
Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst
Wow. We have to constantly remind ourselves that in the end, we are truly known. We were put on this Earth to love others, and to be a light. So when it comes to friendship, I prefer to take the route of not letting it get surface level and letting these ugly forces take flight.
I have two friends that, outside of my husband, I feel know me to my core. I could also say the sky is green and they would fight for my reasonings. But I also feel like it’s as much their personalities as it is mine. They both call it like they see it, and we can be open and honest with one another at all times. If my day sucked, then it sucked. Why would I hide that? If my life is perfect all the time, then who is going to be there when I need it? When you stop being real with others, they return that cold favor. Don’t let the jealousy in. Don’t let the competitiveness take precedent. That’s not who you are as friends, and that’s not who we were meant to be as people. We were meant to be a light. Keep repeating that.
I have fallen in and out of friendships before. I have let some go, and I have fought for others. In your gut, you know what is right and what is meant to be. You have to love openly and honestly and hope that will be the same on both ends.
While I do, however, feel that while you should be kind to everyone, some people are just not your people. Friendships are hard work. It takes honesty, time, and heart, but it should not drain you of all of your energy. You cannot keep pouring into a cup that does not turn around and fill you back up. It’s a give and a take and some people lean too heavily on the taking. But fight for these people first. Forgive. Love. Pray. We all have moments in our lives when we need to be poured into, but don’t physically have anything to give back. Hard times will come and we will need to be surrounded.
Have you ever been talking with a friend and second guessed your response? Marinated over your answer for a few seconds to see how it would be received or tweaking it a bit to make your situation seem more favorable. That’s not normal. It’s not right. And it’s draining. Friendships shouldn’t include second guessing. They should flow like vinyasa. There will be obstacles, of course, but you shouldn’t be going through a twenty five mile per hour neighborhood with speed bumps every fifty feet. You have to be able to open it up every once in a while, if not on the reg.
You will also face those friendships that have been around for what seems like forever, but no longer feel as connected, or as full as they once did. And that’s okay too. As humans, we grow and change and sometimes that leads us in different directions. You can love on those people when they need it, but it’s okay to release yourself of that commitment. No hard feelings, just a new path. There is nothing wrong with surrounding yourself with those who are constantly present.
Certain friendships will surprise you. Something that you thought was just coffee, or a happy hour will turn into an unexpected moment when you find one of your people. Don’t shy away from these moments. Those are the unicorns. The ones that you meet briefly but are heavy on the follow up. Look closely for those that lean in when you speak, and check in on you often. Those are the ones that are fulfilling the purpose of being a light in another’s life – the one’s that truly care and want to make their way into the circle. Give those a chance, like the new kid in middle school that wants to sit at your table.
I’m not sure if any of these resonates, or relates to what my reader was referring to when she reached out and asked me to speak on this subject, but I hope that I have given you some comfort. Friendship takes time, and while we weren’t meant for everyone, we were intentionally put here for some. Be kind to everyone. Don’t let jealousy get in the way. Look out for the unicorns. And always be you, no matter if it’s accepted. You will find your people. Love them hard when you do.