Every year I get excited as the temperatures begin to drop, the leaves on the trees begin to change array of reds, oranges, and yellows. It’s almost autumn, my favorite season fun foods, festivities, and cooler weather – dreaming of pumpkin lattes, apple pie and campfire S’mores.
There’s something about the change to cooler weather that causes a mindset shift for me every year. Maybe the fact that my birthday is in November has something to do with it – a reminder to me to take a look back at the past year and reflect. It’s a time to sit down and analyze what went well this year, what I would still like to accomplish, and what I want next year to look like.
Once I’ve mapped out the final months of the year, I turn my attention to the year ahead. This process hasn’t always been easy for me, and I never really had a method to my madness. I would simply brainstorm a giant list of things that I want to do and insha’Allah(God-willing) accomplish.
I’m proud of myself for accomplishing some of the goals I set last fall. Putting my career on hold to focus on my nonprofit (although, nerve-wracking decision) was great idea. The past year I did the most personal growth leaving my comfort zone, letting go one-way relationship, and unhealthy friendships to create space for something better. I think it goes without saying that growth is necessary. It’s a thing that happens, right? As we continue to live, we continue to change, and much has been said about this type of change.One of my favorite quotes on change comes from a world renowned philosopher: “Everybody look at you strange, say you changed. Like you work that hard to stay the same.” Jay-Z
I’ve heard the phrase “growing pains” used to describe it, but that doesn’t quite fit for me because what I’m experiencing isn’t painful. I feel more than anything like I’m in a stage of change where things are infinitely possible, and being open to all of those possibilities is resulting in an awkward floundering and figuring out. It’s not painful, just unclear at times.
One of goals was to let go unhealthy friendships so; recently, I’ve been evaluating the quality of my friendships. I don’t have a lot of friends and my circle is definitely smaller than it used to be, but that would be unfair, because I have a lot of people that I feel blessed to call my friends. People who support me, and have been there for me in amazing times, and times where I’ve felt like I was down and I’d like to hope it’s reciprocal. Friendship like any relationships needs attention in order to thrive. I wanted to share a few ways on how I try to invest in my friendships
- Be there – Unrequited love sucks- romantic relationships or not. In my opinion a lack of effort shows a lack of interest. People are likely to do for you when they know that you wouldn’t hesitate to support them as they do you. Friendship isn’t tit for tat, but it’s can be unmotivating to cross oceans for people who wouldn’t cross puddles for you.
But what does it really mean to be present? I like to think of being present as beyond physically being avail because truth is life happens, and physical proximity just isn’t always possible. Being present to me looks like, paying attention, asking questions, engaging, not assuming (working on this) and meeting people where they are at. I can’t stress the importance of meeting people where they are at. We’ve got to learn to meet people where they’re at and help them develop.
- Asking for what you need. I like to think of asking for what you need as a good form of self-advocacy. Relationships are likely to drift apart when we feel like our needs aren’t being met. Doesn’t it suck when you feel like people aren’t there for you? People aren’t mind readers, and can’t always anticipate our needs; so for the sake the relationship, it helps to let people know what you need, and also asking them what they need. Sometimes asking for what you need requires some vulnerability, and that can be hard for some people including myself.
- I don’t subscribe to the “no new friends” stance, but as you get older building genuine relationships can prove to be somewhat difficult because there’s a lot years that this person is just catching up on and vice versa, and the question of trust comes into play. Like, how much can I trust you, vice versa. These things take time, obviously. However, I’m always weary of the people who are friends with everyone or have to question where a person’s loyalty lie.It can be pretty difficult to friendship without a good communication. Like being able to say, hey that happened and I felt like this. That means sharing, sharing when you’re good and bad news. Communication means no secret keeping. If I can’t trust you to be open about the small things or celebrate your success, are we even friends? Cheers to being friends who are there during highs and low. I don’t know about you, but it’s important for me to have friends celebrate the good times just as much as the ugly.
But for all that has been said of change and the benefits of it, the good that comes along with the fresh new eyes you get from growth, I wish more was said of that weird space in between.