I have really struggled with how to begin this one and I finally decided that cutting to the chase is best. Friendships, albeit while important, can be hard as hell to maintain at times. That’s it! No, for real- think about it: we go through life making conscious decisions to enter into relationships with people with the hope that the connection will be mutually beneficial. When that doesn’t happen and disappointments set in or miscommunication happens, what should we do? I haven’t quite figured it out yet, hence the inspiration for this piece.
I will be the first to admit that if I give you the title of friend it means something to me and I am going to do my best to be the kind of friend I would want. Over the past few years I realized the dynamics of my friendships were changing. It wasn’t something I was upset about. It caught me off guard honestly and I am really now learning to live with (and enjoy) their evolution. I don’t think I’ve ever written about my friends before, but over the years I have developed what I consider to be healthy friendships with many great people and these relationships have helped shape me into the woman I am. In my circle there are movers and shakers in the worlds of education, health care, the beauty and sports industry, the good ‘ole federal government, and lots of entrepreneurs in between. These ladies are out here grinding every day making the world a better place. I truly believe in the saying, “birds of a feather flock together” and find this to be true of those I surround myself with. But, even while I may be flocking and flying in the same direction as my homegirls, there are times when life happens and it can be challenging to go in the same direction and at the same pace. My hope is that they know my love is real and I am always in their corner.
There is a trend in conversations I’ve been having and those I’ve ear hustled in on and that is friendships will inevitably evolve over time. Change. Morph. Grow. Mature. Expand. Essentially, they will not stay the same. For me the level of intimacy I have with my girlfriends looks different and has shifted over time. But why though? The only answers I can come up with is because of L-I-F-E and M-E. As I am getting older, getting deeper into my marriage and motherhood, and figuring out what I am doing with my career my friend-needs have changed along with my expectations.
Here are some hard truths about my friendships I have learned..some the hard way. I hope they can help you.
One size does NOT fit all- It’s common sense that everyone is different, right? So why did I try to have the same kind of friendship with people who are different?! Being lazy I guess and not taking time to think about who each one is and tailor my relationship to who they are and who we are as friends. While it did take more work on my part, when I took a different approach, it has been beneficial to my relationships. Of my crew, I know who I am going to mostly text with versus who I end up having more face-to-face time with. So, I allow my friends’ personalities and lessons learned about them to guide my approach and my hope is they do the same.
QTIP- We’ve all done it before…misinterpreted a text, tone of voice, or lack of a phone call and thought it had something to do with us. In case you haven’t, I’ll let you know that I have done this more than I care to admit and still slip up every now and again. It’s easy to do. So here is a memorable acronym to help you out- Quit Taking It Personally! Shout out to Danielle for sharing this gem with me :). I learned a tough lesson (twice) about this and what I discovered was something bigger was going on in my friends’ lives that lead to a change in their normal routine and they needed my support, not my selfishness. I’ll be honest- it was a hard pill for me to swallow at the time. Thankfully I got over myself. In all relationships there are ebbs and flows and times when you find yourself giving more than you receive. If you make that conscious decision to enter into a relationship with a friend, then you are inevitably signing up to ride the tide. Say it with me…QTIP…QTIP…QTIP. Good!
All relationships evolve- #facts. Back to this point again. This has been the most interesting and surprising lesson for me to learn. What I needed at 18, 23, 30, or even last year is not exactly what I need now from my friends. We’ve all heard quotes about growing and improving each year, so why doesn’t that same idea apply to our friendships? Until I wrote this I never thought about my friendships improving the same way I expect myself to get better. It totally makes sense though. Over the last two years I was getting a bit concerned about a few key relationships and the direction they were headed. I sought out the opinion of different people until I stopped to realize that my friends are who they are and if the relationship is important to me, then I had to be willing to allow for them to grow and change just as much as me. I also had to keep in mind that they were toughing out my growing pains and being patient with my evolution as a friend, woman, wife, mother, educator, etc. Today I feel good about the direction my friendships are headed in. No, they don’t ‘look’ the same as they did a few months ago and I am ok with that. I am open to the next phase and excited to see where it will go.