We all know that girl. We all know that girl that has an opinion about everything everyone ever does. We all know that girl that seems to always influence us toward unwise decisions like starving ourselves to look thinner or going a little too far with the guy who you really like but you also want to respect you. And we all know that girl who says they “hate gossip” but loves the latest tea, am I right?
As you read this you’re probably thinking of that girl in your school or neighbourhood that is always talking about other people. And yet, some of us would give anything to be friends with some of these girls – to be accepted and liked by them. To be invited to the party, to be the one getting the attention, to be the one who appears like she feels good.
If we are desperate to be friends with her, we might start becoming like her. There is a dangerous and slippery slope between knowing that girl and being that girl. There are actual statistics out there that prove that we become like the five people we spend the most of our time with it.
Who do you spend your time with?
If it’s still 2020 when you’re reading this, you’re probably spending your time with a limited number of people, especially if your parents are front line workers. But who you spend your time with isn’t just about physical proximity, it’s also about who gets access to your thoughts, your feelings, and your decision-making. Toxic friends aren’t limited to who you go to the mall with. They exist on Instagram, Tiktok, and Messenger. Actually, it’s a lot easier to be mean behind a screen. Girls can say some pretty gutless and heart wrenching things to other girls without even looking each other in the eye. And sometimes, we can be equally impactful by just saying nothing at all. The truth is, we become like the people we spend the most of our time with – even if that time is you scrolling through her social media posts or her writing a mean text to you.
Don’t fall into the trap of spending all your energy on that girl.
Evaluate who is in your life, why they are there and what kind of impact they are making. When I was a kid my mom would say to me, this person is either in your life for a season, a reason or a lifetime. The first one was always the hardest for me: a season. I mean, why come into my life at all if you’re just going to leave? But they weren’t going to leave. As I got older I found out – I was. I was the one who was going to out grow the friendship because the way in which they treated me no longer felt good and as I grew to like myself for who I really am I no longer needed them in my life. So I moved on and a made new friends. And you can too. When you evaluate who is in your life, why they are there and what kind of impact they have on your day to day decision making, attitude, character and interactions with others, you will start to see what friendships are healthy and which are toxic.
But the truth is, before we can evaluate our friendships we have to first evaluate ourselves because the reality is, avoiding toxic friendships start with an understanding of what true friendship really means to you.
I remember sitting on my bed weeping after I received an 8-paragraph email from one of my best friends saying she was “ending our friendship” because it was no longer healthy for her. Um, pardon? This is the girl that I have stood beside through her break up. This is the girl I did weekend shopping trips with. This is the girl that I could talk to for hours. We never really had problems in our friendship. Or so I thought. And now she wants to kick me out of her life because she thinks I’m too toxic for her?
I had become that girl.
I was so blind sighted by my friend’s email that I neglected to see the small choices that I had made in our friendship that led to this. Had I made her feel less important around other people? Had I laughed at her expense, even without hurtful intention? Yep. I had. And now I was starring a series of my choices in the face as she made one of her own. I never did get the opportunity to fix the friendship so I’ve had to learn to own my responsibility in hurting her, and then do better.
Being a friend is hard. Choosing to own your mistakes is hard. And evaluating who is in your life and what kind of impact they are having, is super hard. And all of that hardship can often leave us feeling alone, isolated and unimportant. I mean, if we shouldn’t hang out with that girl and we don’t want to be that girl, then who in the world should we be?
You be the best dang friend that you can be, knowing that everyone makes mistakes but you also don’t have to be somebody’s doormat. You surround yourself with people who value you for who you are and not what you can buy or how many days a week you have your parent’s car. You spend your time and energy with friends who champion your goals instead of questioning your integrity. And you make dang sure that you hold your head high when you make a wise decision, letting no one tell you that it’s lame or not enough to be their friend.
You go be the girl that the younger girls want to be like, your friends feel valued by and the older women in your life respect. You be the one that stands up for the person being bullied. Be the girl that looks in the mirror and is proud of the decision she makes, even if it means deciding to apologize for something. Be the girl who is generous, kindhearted, honest, and thoughtful. Be the girl who holds to her values and makes her family proud. Be the girl who is willing to let go of toxic friendships, so that she can grow into the person she knows she is meant to be.
Be THAT girl.