I had a crappy middle school experience both inside and outside of the classroom. I told a snippet of my embarrassing story to around 700 people on Tuesday, April 18, 2017 with the Stoop Storytelling Series. After the show, several audience members came up to me, and briefly shared their emotional reactions and stories about bullying or feeling left out. What I learned is that we’ve all had some dark childhood moments, and many of us haven’t told a soul.
I also realized I’m holding on to toxic relationships. I’m still pouring myself into bottomless glasses. It’s draining and it’s unfair.
I turn 30 this year, and it’s causing me to re-evaluate many of the important things in my life. This month, my focus has been on friends.
Namely, I’ve been thinking about:
- How often I try to hard to make friends – and keep them
- The people in my life who seem to reject who I am, yet, I still try to get them to like me
- The people who I’ve given so much to, yet, they provide so little in return
A former colleague recently reminded me to continue meeting people where they are. There’s nothing wrong with this. In fact, it’s what helps me connect with my college students. But, there needs to be a line with it comes to personal friendships and the people I invest continual energy in. I can meet people where they are and love them, but I don’t have to stay where they are. I’m realizing that I do have some things I need from my friends, and not everyone is willing to give it (and that’s okay).
Here’s a list of my non-negotiables.
I want friends who:
- Are adventurous and outgoing
- Are willing to share some deeper parts of themselves
- Aren’t afraid to ask themselves big questions
- Give to others and serve others
- Are aware of issues facing marginalized/erased/oppressed people and don’t just ignore them
- Love me for who I am and respect me
- Want to make roots in or near Baltimore for the next several years
They don’t need to:
- Have everything figured out
- Be anywhere near perfect – no one is
- Be enlightened
- Be successful
- Be a completely open book
I encourage you to take some time and make these list too.
Some would say I’m being too picky, and I’d agree. We get to be selective.Think about it: we can’t pick our family, our co-workers, or the dude sitting next to us on the bus. But, we have a say in who we call friends.
I have been too open and too afraid to choose the people I want in my life. I’ve been under the impression that I need to take whoever shows me love. This has been damaging.
I’ve also been trusting people too quickly out of desperation. I need to take more time to let the relationship build. This means sharing a little less of myself, and not putting in so much investment after one meet up. At the end of the day – if I’m being honest – I’ve been lacking consistent connection for the past several years. It has a lot to do with attending college in Jersey, volunteering in three different cities in Oregon, moving to Pennsylvania, and then living two different places in Maryland.
That’s a lot of good-byes. So, now I’m wanting to be more grounded.
I’m realizing it’s worth it to take new relationships more slowly. If they don’t want me, I can’t make them stay, and I don’t need to make them stay. It’s worth it to be mindful about the people in my life. Jim Rohn said we’re theaverage of the five people we spend the most time with.
Here are my goals for friendship for the rest of 2017:
1. Befriend more men of color – especially Black men
2. Set better boundaries with people who are taking life away from me (mean people, jerks, those who threaten my Blackness, people who are myopic, people who intentionally make life harder for others, etc.)
3. Position myself to meet the people I’m wanting to find by volunteering, attending fun events in the community, and hosting more dinners/brunches.
4. Continue to connect with pen-pals and long distance friends
5. Pour more into my marriage – Tyensha is my BESTEST friend of all.
So, what about you?
Are you holding on to toxic relationships? Have you honestly been feeling a bit lonely or desperate to connect with others? Know that you’re not alone.
No one has it all figured out – stop believing what you see on social media. We move to new places, we leave home, we marry, we go off the grid, we take time to find ourselves, and sometimes all our friends just up and leave. We all have reasons why we are where we are. We also get to choose the people we keep in our lives. So who are you wanting to keep?
Who do you need to let go?
Have you heard of Sinclair.ity? I send emails to wonderful and amazing people every single week. I do this because I appreciate it when someone speaks their truth. It helps me to feel a little more okay. If you can use some real talk in your life each Monday, sign up here. Thank you for being you.