Ah, the friend, the person who knows and the one who understands. I can say that I am lucky to have had friends in my life. I have had people who somehow instinctively know it is time for a call. These are real friends. These are the people to hang on to. These are the ones that will detail our memory and at the final time, when we find ourselves at the twilight of life and the dawn of a new entry, our friends and loved ones are the momentum that keeps the pulse going.
I suppose there is a beginning lesson for us all. There is our first friend who in my case, this was a young boy named Philippe. I cannot say that I remember him well. We were toddlers and all I recall are the stories I was told. I knew him in my first stages of life. And somehow, years later, I learned about a tragedy that hit his family. The strange part is I had not thought about my young friend or his family since I was very young. I hadn’t heard from them since my move away from the neighborhood. I think I was about three at the time. But still, I felt something.
I felt something inside me, like a loss, and I saw an old picture in my mind. I saw faces that I had not thought of or remembered since I was very small—and inside me, a piece of me shared their pain. I felt this. I felt this as clear as I feel the keys which I type upon to send you this message.
I think this word needs a closer look, which I intend to do in the next series of journals.
I can say that I am fortunate. I can say that I am grateful for those who’ve impacted my life for the better, simply by caring, or by showing up when I needed them the most.
I can say that I have seen friends who were people that I listed in name only. I can call them fair-weathered. I can say that they were more acquaintances. I can say that there were times when I assumed the wrong idea. There were times when I believed people felt or thought the same as I did. But they did not. And I found this out in painful ways. But still, I learned.
There were times when I experienced betrayal and times when I saw those who claimed to be a friend were not friends at all. And that’s okay. Perhaps this lesson was expensive but still; at least I learned.
I do not think of people along the lines of good news or bad news anymore. Instead, I only see people as sources of information, to which I owe myself the responsibility to be accountable for.
Rather than accept unacceptable treatment just to be liked or accepted; and rather than disregard warning signs or that red flag that warns me of clear and present danger; I owe myself the dignity to realize a few undeniable terms of my relationships.
First, I got the job. This means I do not have to prove myself to anyone. I do not have to impress anyone nor do I need to seek validation from anyone else. Validation needs to come from within otherwise, it fails us. Put simply, if I always seek an external answer to an internal problem, then I will never learn how to heal myself internally. I had to learn this the hard way but hey, at least I learned.
Secondly, I should never have to sell myself. I should never treat myself as if I am a commodity or an advantage because of something I can offer. I should never have to persuade someone to want to be with me, like me or care. Rather than this, I should allow myself to enjoy the natural order of attraction. And if I find myself alone, then so be it. at least I will be in trusted company,
I have learned to allow those who care to know the opportunity to learn about me; and for those who would rather be elsewhere—I’ve learned to let them be elsewhere. No hostages allowed.
Third, when people show you who they are, believe them.
When people push, ask yourself, “Is this something I think a friend should be?”
Never beg for friendship.
Never plead for attention.
Never be anyone else but me.
Anything else becomes counterproductive.
Be advised that all relationships are an investment. However, more than the payoff, the best relationships to invest in are those who are mutually beneficial.
Friendships are more than give and take. Sometimes we have to breathe out so a person around us can breathe in. I get that. I also get that we are not always at our best. And when we are down, it’s the true friends who know exactly how to strengthen us so we can get back up again.
I have had to define my friendships over the years. I have had to rethink and redefine my ideas as well. Along the way, I have learned that not all friends are meant to be friends forever. People are only lent to us for a short amount of time. Some stay and some go but all people are to be valued uniquely. Even the so-called “Bad ones.” I value them too.
I say this with the idea that although some friends were only part time, the information I learned was on loan from someone who was trying to teach me a lesson. And whether their lessons were intentional or their intentions to teach were selfless or not, my job is to learn from everyone around me. My job is to understand my surroundings. I want to build the best world possible and to do this, I need to know who and what I have around me to build the best life possible.
I have seen the world from the eyes of a competitor’s mindset. I have seen what happens when I live my life in the limitations of comparison. I have pointed fingers and blamed for more years than I can count.
I would look at people and dismiss their successes or explain them away because of who they were or what advantages they had over me.
I gave into limited thinking for literally decades. I compared myself to others. I saw myself as either equal to or less-than and gave into my theories that limited me from finding my success.
Meanwhile, rather than focus on others and rather than consider their advantages, I never looked at my advantages. I never thought about improving my skills or working on my personal resume.
Instead, I was lost in a limited mindset and caught in a cage with invisible bars, acting as both warden and prisoner to my own mind—when in fact, if anyone holds the keys to allow me to be free, that person is me. This is my job. However, I have to be mindful of my surroundings. I have to be mindful of who I allow in my life and who I trust. But before any of this, I have to understand my own worth. Otherwise, I tend to give myself away without ever understanding my true value.
Like you or anyone else in the world, I have been burned before. But the idea is to learn from this. The idea is to not hold everyone else accountable for sins that they had no responsibilities for.
In the next series of entries, I am going to talk about friends and friendships. I am going to relive some of the old glory days. I will also relive some of the regrettable yesterdays and the uglier times. Then I will bring you up to speed with the here and now, which is exactly where I am supposed to be. (Here with you.)
Living, learning, laughing and loving.
This is what I want to do with my life and since you and I are friends, I figured I’d share this with you.
I suppose this is like that song, “Believe it if you need it . . .
If you don’t just pass it on.”