All Articles Tagged "positivity in your friendships"
As she played the first chords, something within me knew that I was about to discover the anthem for this season of my life. Then came the lyrics— It’s been a while…I’m not who I was before… As she continued singing “Brand New Me,” scenes of my life—friendships, fears, and pain—played in my head. Alicia Keys had written a song for me. (I’m almost completely serious about that.) Hearing her close with “It’s a brand new time for me…yeah…” sounded more like “It is finished.” I immediately got out of bed and went to the salon to chop my hair off (again), but this time I resolved that it (my hair) would not be my glory and that no one and nothing would keep me from my destiny. This girl was on fire! Nobody could tell me nothin!
Fancy earrings, selfies, and a shopping spree at the thrift store were only the beginning. The caged bird was finally flying. My passion to write was restored, I was meeting new people, I was traveling, I was laughing, I was dancing, and I wasn’t crying anymore. There was no pain. I’d dealt with the idols in my heart and turned in my counterfeit gods. I could finally breathe. That is until one day, months later, a very dear friend of mine dropped a bomb on me—I’d changed. I’d stopped contacting her as much, I was short in my responses when I did, I wasn’t as concerned with her welfare, and the list went on.
My first thought: HATER. Dang. One of my best friends isn’t happy for me? Really?!? If [she] was worth the while, she’d be happy to see my smile. My response: I did what all the self-help people tell you to do. I decided to surround myself with positive people and not allow any negative energy to bring me down. Derailment avoided. But now, this freedom train was carrying loads of guilt. Had I changed? Was my friend really just hating? Was I willing to lose this friend in order to stay positive? Yes, no and absolutely not.
Some of my change was long overdue and meant freedom, so it couldn’t be bad. But I began to recall Prince’s surprising words during his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame speech. He’d said, “I learned that too much freedom can lead to the soul’s decay.” Whoa.
Indeed, other aspects of my change were loaded with pride and selfishness. I’d gone from one extreme (dependence) to the next (independence). My pursuit of happiness had quickly become a path of self-preservation that abandoned chivalry. I didn’t want to hear anyone’s bad news nor did I want to be anyone’s shoulder to cry on. I wanted to think and reason for myself and define things as I saw fit. And I didn’t want to feel bad for enjoying this new way of life. Yet, I had to consider that while there are people who literally do no want to see you prosper, there are others who wrestle with their own discontentment and have yet to overcome it in order to celebrate you. They are not liberated, so your freedom mocks theirs. Your happiness taunts their depression. Your smile laughs at their tears. And beyond that, they weren’t prepared for the new you. You all have not been re-introduced.
But that reintroduction will take time and seemingly slow you down. And if life is a race in which winning is determined by who allows the least amount of pain, burden, arguments, and frustration to enter into their lives before they cross the finish line, then the best thing for you to do is to avoid negativity at all costs. Don’t slow down. Avoid the depressed, avoid pessimists, avoid quitters, avoid opponents, avoid, avoid, avoid. But that’s not what life is. And we know it. We know that because we’ve been depressed, we’ve been pessimistic, we’ve wanted to quit (or have quit) something, and we’ve been opposed to things and people. We would be avoided and left aside on the road waiting on a good Samaritan all the same. I can’t speak for Alicia’s situation—it is actually her song about her own life—so her resolve could very well be the best for her, and I will continue to cheer for her freedom. (Die hard fan over here.) But sometimes the people who challenge and frustrate us, or interrupt our lives the most, are the people who will actually help transform us into better people. So, in turn, the path of least resistance can often be the path to mediocrity, self-righteousness, and incompleteness even if it looks like we’re on the yellow brick road.
After apologizing to my friend, and hopefully mending our broken relationship, I wondered how I could pursue my dreams and be happy without becoming a mean girl and losing sight of what is true and good? I knew it would have to involve resetting my moral compass by an unchanging north star. And I recalled that North Star being what my pastor always says: “Love God, love people, and do whatever else you want. The restriction is in the first two.”
That’s a brand new kinda free…yeah.
“You’re wearing that?”
“She looks crazy in that outfit. Don’t she have mirrors?”
“Why does she walk like that?”
“Hmph… she’s soooo ugly, what does he see in her?”
Preface and/or follow these acidic remarks with extreme eye-rolling, sucking of the teeth and sometimes hours of people-bashing and you have a poisonous landfill of negativity brought to you by one of my former best friends. We’ve all had a toxic gal pal. Rude. Judgmental. Always talking down to others under the guise of wanting to “help,” yet totally oblivious to the mangled mess that is their own life. They have an opinion about EVERYTHING. They even have an opinion about opinions. Nothing good to say. And some days if we knew no charges could be filed we’ve all wanted to take a bat and Barry Bonds the ever-loving snot out of them and accompany it with a maniacal, “SHUT THE [your choice expletive] UP!”
At first, in my mind, that was just her personality. She was the big mouth of our circle. And didn’t every circle have one? I would be hypocritical if I fronted like I never joined in. Why did I take part in the gossip? I don’t have a solid answer; just a mashup of inexcusable but honest reasons: It made me feel better about myself; I truly didn’t like some of the people we discussed; there wasn’t much else to do sometimes. Lame? Yes. But 100 percent honest nonetheless.
I had my ‘Aha!’ moment one day when it dawned on me that we had been talking about (aka, tearing apart) the SAME girl for a little over THREE hours. Annoyed didn’t even scrape the surface of how I felt. I said, “Well dang, y’all! Can we talk about something else? That girl is going on about her business and we’re sitting, doing nothing but talking bad about her.”
The initial shock of my outburst rolled out waves of silencing guilt to everyone in the room. Everyone except who? My brazen bestie. She continued like I never said a word and pretty soon everyone else joined back in. I complained of fatigue and left to spend a few hours alone thinking about it all. I decided that enough was enough. I was absolutely finished with the bad-mouthing round tables. No one was helped and nothing was solved by them. All we were doing was trying to elevate ourselves at someone else’s expense, stupidly following the ringleader – my best friend and her big mouth.
From that day until the subsequent demise of our friendship some six months later, I made it my mission to shoot down every negative opinion/insult she hurled out, especially when the person on the receiving end did nothing to deserve such treatment. I started complimenting everyone and calling my bestie out on her behavior. She made excuses. Typical. And I made other friends. *Shrugs nonchalantly*
She didn’t like my newfound independence so we drifted further apart, but inwardly I cheered like a death row inmate getting a pardon call from the president. I was free, not constantly being dragged down by her storm of female-bashing. It was to the point that others hated ME because I was friends with HER. I was tired of enduring her big mouth to keep from hurting her feelings. I was tired of making excuses like, “Well, she really is a good-hearted person once you get to know her.” But I was more sick of her than anyone else, so it was a relief and an almost instantaneous drop in my blood pressure when our friendship disintegrated.
I haven’t looked back in regret. It was absolutely draining trying to keep a perpetually negative friend happy. It was an uphill battle I was undoubtedly going to lose. Why? Because there was something about herself that she hated, couldn’t forgive, was insecure about, etc. It was an internal struggle that wouldn’t end until she found the courage to self-evaluate and CHANGE. It’s easy to project negativity to others but it takes a huge measure of humility and strength to take a look in the mirror. Whatever is in you is what comes out. That’s the same for negativity and positivity alike; a lesson I learned the hard way.
Allowing that one big-mouthed friend to spew negativity is the worst thing you can do because not only will the negativity spread, but you’re also enabling her behavior and actually proving to be a horrible friend just like I was. True friends lift each other to meet and operate according to their higher nature and standards. They don’t go along with basic behavior for the sake of sparing feelings, and sit back and watch them hurt others for a quick chuckle.
Now, all these years later, I’ve been blessed with some true, positive, straight-shooting girlfriends. Are we perfect? Absolutely not, but we refuse to allow negativity to dwell among us and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am, we each are, a better friend and woman because of it.
La Truly is a late-blooming Aries with Natural hair and lots to say. Her writing is powered by a lifetime of anecdotal proof that awkward can transform to awesome and fear can cast its crown before courage. Armed with the ability to purposefully poke fun at herself and a passion for young women’s empowerment, La seeks to encourage thought, discussion and positive change. Check out her thoughts/jokes/rants on Twitter: @AshleyLaTruly.
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