Reader Submission: We’re Not Friends And That’s OK
By Davina Britt
Recently, I was standing in line to get some coffee at a coffee shop when I saw an old coworker walk in accompanied by another woman. I remembered her because she was cool to work with; we went to lunch a few times, gossiped about other coworkers, and I told her stories about me that were just personal enough that she felt like she knew me when she really didn’t. But, as with most coworkers, after we stopped working together we stopped talking and our interaction was reduced to a birthday shoutout on Facebook.
“Davina!!! Oh my god, so great seeing you!!! Anne, this is my friend Davina, we used to work together.”
I immediately paused and had to catch myself, hoping my face didn’t show what I was thinking. I smiled and shook Anne’s hand and caught up briefly with my ex-coworker. As we walked out, we promised to get together soon, which we both knew was a lie and went about our day. That interaction got me thinking: Why did she call me her friend? Is that the socially acceptable thing to do? We don’t hang out, we don’t know each other very well, never been in each other’s home, I’ve never cried on her shoulder after a breakup….I can go on and on. She’s a nice person but I view her more as a former work associate, not a friend. Am I making this too deep? I have a tendency to do that. But the more I think about it I think that society tosses that word around too freely and doesn’t make it as deep as it should.
To me words mean things. I think calling someone you know a friend is a common default setting or a social norm that has developed over time. Instead of saying this is Tasha I’ve known her for a while and she is cool but not that cool, we just introduce her as our friend Tasha. Maybe introducing someone as our associate Tasha seems too cold. It may seem small but I have really been reading more on the 12 Universal Laws, in particular the Law of Attraction. It’s teaching me on a deeper level that thoughts and words become things so I’m being real cautious of my words and my thoughts. If I give someone the title of friend that is not really my friend, does that mean that I will attract more of that kind of person into my life? I call someone my friend when I mean it. It means I will do anything for them, they are like family and I expect the same in return. I know a lot of people, I am cool with a lot of people, but I can literally count those I call my friends on one hand. We’ve been through break-ups, unemployment, marriage, divorce, and child birth. We’ve fought, made each other cry, told each other what we needed to hear versus what we wanted to hear and can still go out on occasion and turn up like we’re still in our 20’s. I consider myself extremely blessed because not everyone has friends they can count on. I want to make sure that I attract more of those kind of people in my life so I am fine with introducing my former coworker as just that–my former coworker. Or we can throw the titles away altogether, just introduce me using my name! I don’t need to you to try and “nice it up” for me; lets just call it as it is.
Maybe you define friendship differently. Maybe you feel I’m doing too much. Maybe you don’t care either way. All of that is fine. Calling someone your friend that is really not your friend is not life threatening and I’ll admit there are more pressing matters in the world. However, there is nothing wrong with being more cognizant of the words that come out of our mouths and the titles and positions we allow people in our lives.
Davina Britt is a Talent Strategist by day and an aspiring writer by night. She enjoys writing creative fiction and opinion pieces and hopes to write for blog where she can share her unique outlook on navigating through the world as a Black woman. She currently resides in Milwaukee, WI.
If you’d like to submit an essay for publishing consideration, send your pitch to firstname.lastname@example.org.