When I was a teenager, I was terrified of friendships. How silly does that sound?
Truth is, I was scared to let people too close.
What if they can't be trusted? What if I’ll feel pressured to be someone I don’t want to be? What if they later choose to reject me? What if they judge me when they see my flaws?
The result: isolation.
I was a “floater”. I floated between friend groups, dipping my toes into all of the groups; close enough that I could connect, but far enough that no one could crack the shell I built around myself.
Isolation is a dangerous zone. Now, I'm not talking about simply being alone. We all need a little alone time to rest and think. I'm talking about separation. The kind where your mind wanders too much. Where you start to believe that you don't belong. Where you are surrounded by people, yet you feel alone. Where you’ve set such a distance between yourself and a trusting friendship, that comparison naturally pours in and fills the gap.
Jealousy, insecurity, fear… it finds it’s way into your friendships all the time. I think a lot of it could be avoided if we all just went into friendships as we are. If we didn’t put unrealistic expectations on each other. If we didn’t assume. If we defended one another more than we put one another down. So much of this is usually done out of the fear of finding ourselves on the wrong side of the ‘talking’. I’ve felt that same fear.
How do fight this fear and be a friend? And not just a ‘kinda’ friend, but a good friend. The kind that people want to stick by them for the long haul.
1. Be present. The truth is, we are all a bunch of imperfect people who are trying to figure out life, and that's not always easy. A friend is simply someone to journey this with. Consider them your tribe. Your cheerleading squad. Your teammates. Whatever term you'd like to use, you're in it together. Be present for them, through thick and thin. Don’t be the friend that ditches people, or uses lame excuses for why you can’t hang out. Loyalty = trust = comfortability.
2. Talk. We all have our own series of struggles and heartaches. It’s easier to keep our pain to ourselves but it is much more freeing when we invite our friends to walk with us. Talk about life, what it’s like to be a teenager, what kind of pressures you are facing, etc. When you get real with each other and talk about what you are walking through, you’ll realize that you’re actually not alone. I think everyone’s just waiting for someone to be brave. To speak up. To say what everyone else is thinking and feeling.
3. Accept her. One of my favourite mottos is "come as you are". It's hard to live this out in a culture that screams the exact opposite. But, what if we surprised everybody. What if we championed our friends and used our words to encourage rather than control. Imagine if instead of holding grudges, we forgave easily. Picture a tribe that isn't expecting perfection but is a friend group you can count on. It’s honest. And real. And it isn’t exhausting to be a part of; everyone looking over their shoulder wondering if they are truly accepted. Just accept.
Life is going to continue to throw all kinds of unexpected at you, it’s a guarantee. But, you don't have to do it alone. Get yourself a few good friends. Build up that tribe. And you? Be a good friend. Do for her what you wish someone would do for you. Speak to her how you'd like to be spoken to. Accept her flaws just as you don't want to be limited by yours.
Don’t be afraid of friendship. Don’t miss out on something that could be exactly what you need. Exactly what she needs. Walk up to her knowing you have something great to offer. Yes, you.
Come as you are.
Then accept her as she is.
Always cheering you on,