Going back to my childhood (because everything that we do originates there), I learned the importance of friendship. Somewhere at my grandma’s house, there is my kindergarten report card. On this report card I performed satisfactorily in all areas except the comment section. The comment read “Racquell is very social and has lots of friends, but she needs to learn when it’s appropriate to talk.” Yes. I woke up like this. The same applies today as I’m usually getting in trouble at work for being too chatty and having hour long conversations with strangers I meet on the street. In addition, Jenny (my mother) has had friends near and far for all of my life. I can’t remember a time when they weren’t there for support for whatever shenanigans she had going on. They were at my birthday parties, their kids became my friends and they never failed to give me encouragement and guidance as I was growing up. Many of them still do.
So it’s no secret that friendship continues to be a major part of what makes me who I am. Anybody that knows me, knows that I absolutely love my friends. Emphasis on FRIENDS. By that I mean that if we’ve never hung out, been to a wedding or a funeral together or your parents don’t know who I am, then we probably aren’t really friends. I have tons of pictures of them hanging in my work space, in frames, just everywhere. Every single one of them. My friends are closer than most of my family. They are my peace of mind when I have lost it and my voice of reason by request. I do my best to keep good people in my life and more importantly keep in contact with them. Even when it sometimes means every now and thanks to the journey of life.
So I decided to share three things that I have learned about friendship over the years. Because well…..like everything else, people change:
- Never be afraid to keep it moving
- Meet them where they are
- There are plenty of seats at the table
When someone shows you who they are, believe them. -Maya Angelou
She said it. Your grandma said it. My grandma said it. I’m saying it again. How many more times does it need to be repeated for you to get it? Somewhere along the lines I remembered that you are not obligated to stay in any friendship that you no longer desire to be apart of. And that does not only apply to friendships. It’s completely ok to keep it moving. I had a friend to simply abandon thirteen years of friendship. Did it hurt? Hell yeah! It took me forever and a day to process it, grieve and move on. I had all types of issues surrounding loyalty and trust after it happened. On the brighter side, this person made so much more room for other beautiful people to come into my life.
Understanding and compassion also go hand and hand in friendships. I became a better friend the day I tried on the shoes of one of my friends. My intention was to understand exactly how they became who they were when I met them. When I tell y’all this made me more compassionate and willing to accept them where they were in life. It also taught me to stop shaming and stop allowing friends to shame me for decisions that they or I have made or continue to make. To be a better friend, at some point, we have to let grown folks be grown. Listen, I used to be NOTORIOUS for taking on their baggage. Those days are few and far between. I love ya. But if both of us are breaking down from all this baggage, who is going to help us keep going? The cycle has to stop at some point. Nowadays, I give my opinion only when asked. If you are receptive, cool. If not, why the hell did you ask me? I’m a friend that’s down for whatever my friends are down for as long as its legal. We all know how I feel about being an inmate (see the post about student loans).
Especially as women, we have GOT to learn our friends. All friends ARE NOT created equal. I repeat ALL FRIENDS ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL. Some friends need to be told all the details while others need to be given the cliff notes. It’s best to also have friends that are well rounded. Have friends that not only party with you, but ones that also pray with you and for you. I’m starting to hate the phrase “birds of a feather flock together.” Because sometimes they don’t. I’m definitely the Dina (Girls Trip) in my group of friends. And if you base them off of my antics, you’ll be in for a surprise. I have different sets of friends that have come into my life at different times. There are only two occasions that I expect to see all of them in the same room at the same time- my birthday dinners and my future wedding. I know them well enough to know that to ask for more than that would be pretty chaotic. And ain’t nobody got time for that.