Just Balance with Brittany: Balancing Life Long Friendships
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Hi Triple B's-
I just want to start off saying thank you! Thank you so much for listening to last week's blog. The outpouring of love, support, and connection was overwhelming in the best way. Balancing my identity as a black woman is a journey that I will continue to travel on-- I mean my identity will never change, so I'm definitely committed to this lifelong work around balancing my identity.
Now, speaking of life long- I'd love to jump in today and think about how I've been balancing life long friendships. If you know me then you know that I don't have a lot of friends. Granted, this has been intentional on my part. I've always held the friendships that I had very close to my heart- in a very territorial way (which is not healthy as my psychologist would suggest). While my sister and I's relationship has continued to evolve and grow, we both had our own set of friends growing up. I can honestly say that I have had three friendships that I imagined would be life long friendships. I could always see my life with these women regardless of the up and down times in our relationships. When you're younger, you often think that there are people that will stay with you forever regardless of what happens. I now know that this is NOT at all true and that all relationships have a season to them.
One of the challenges that always existed in my closest friendships was BOYS! In teenage and young adult years, I would find balancing my life with who I was dating and maintaining successful friendships really challenging. Honestly it wasn't just me, it was my friends too. You know when you're in those stages of "young love", your world literally revolves around them. Why? Because you think it's going to last forever. And while some of these relationships do, most of them don't at all. In reflection, I've learned sometimes the things that we love the most, we can also take for granted the most. That was the case with some of my closest friendships. While I can take ownership in my part of the downfall in at least one of these relationships, I also now understand that you have to show up for your friends in the way that THEY need you to show up for them. When we show up for folks in the way that makes you most comfortable, it's actually really selfish and self serving.
William Shakespeare said "a friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow". Long life friendships just like any other relationship needs cultivating, both parties have to be willing to put in the time and effort to make them work. This is hard when everyone around you is doing life. I've made some gigantic missteps with some of my closest friends in not putting in the time and effort that was needed to manage our friendships. I've also have some of my closest friends decide for whatever reason that they couldn't dedicate the time and effort in cultivating our friendship. While hurtful at first, I realize that if I want to operate in my truth and be my authentic self, I should also expect other folks to do that. When friendships come to an end, it's okay. That's one of the ways that I figure out the balance. If both parties don't feel like it's worth it, then it's not. I've been on both sides of this argument so I've dished out that kind of hurt and also received it as well. There is a level of maturity, vulnerability, and honesty that comes with balancing life long friendships.
Virginia Wolfe said "some people go to priest. Other to poetry. I to my friends". Give and take is the most important factor in making sure that you have balance in friendships. Give and take for Patrice and I looks like me calling her on the way to drop off the kids at school and her actually answering because I need to talk. Or meeting for drinks so that we can have the face to face time. It means being there in the hardest times like during the death of loved ones or the worst breakups. Give and take for Devonna and I looks like hooking up in Nashville or Memphis when either one of us is in town or FaceTiming at 7:15 in the morning while Devonna is on her morning commute to work. Give and take for Krystalyn and I looks like communicating with each other even if the other one doesn't like it or FaceTiming back and forth to see each other multiple times a week. Balance in all of these friendships means communicating effectively, valuing what each person brings to the relationship, always showing up for each other in the way that they need it, leaning into each others' strengths, and holding each other up in the times of weakness.
Aristotle said "wishing to be friends is quick work, but friendship is a slow ripening fruit". But what do you do when the fruit grows but it's not good or it's not good for you. I've definitely been here in friendships too. One in particular that I can think of. It was important to me- honestly it's still important to me. But I realize that there are seasons, and layers, and circumstances, and so many unspoken reasons that make it hard or harder for some friendships to exist. And while I'd at one point hoped that I could turn a corner in this relationship, it just didn't happen. And as I type this more and more, I'm realizing that it's okay. Our lifestyles were so different and our life paths had also become different. That friendship was experiencing "imbalance". And honestly there is only so much fighting that folks are going to do before they start to question if what they are actually fighting for is worth that. --It's also the way that I just sent this blog to Patrice to make sure that this paragraph was okay to write lol--. She always affirms me when I need her. Today it was "best friend, your truth is your truth, write it".
Next week, I'll have some amazing women on the podcast. We will engage in a much needed (for me at least), conversation about how we have balanced life long friendships over the years- with our life long best friends!
"Friendships are fragile things and require as much handling as any other fragile and precious thing". -Randolph S. Bourne
As always, words are what I have for you