By Patrice Greene
I’ve been thinking about the topic of friendship constantly over the last few years. This piece originally started off as talking about knowing when to let go or maintain friendships. But as I began to write, I realized quite honestly, it is something that I struggled with. I think it is something that we all have issues with. And I can’t tell anyone what their limits and boundaries are. Hell, I am 28, and still working through daily what those are for me. It is something that literally comes with time and who and where you are at in life at that moment. What I decided to focus on was the overall feeling of transitioning and how that has affected my view on friendship and the type of friend I strive to be.
To write a piece on friendship, I recognized I had to be vulnerable. I believe vulnerability and honesty are the basis of any friendship. And friendship should be the basis of any foundation of love. So here it goes.
First, it can be so damn hard to maintain friendships in any new stage of life--starting school or a new job, becoming a parent, etc. For me, it was moving away from my hometown. I was about a five-hour drive away from my hometown. To top it off, I moved to an area where I did not know anyone. In the strangest way, this physical isolation from my family and friends, taught me how to show up for others and how I want others to show up from me.
It can be easy to be a “friend” when being a friend is convenient. That convenience can also be due to location or physical proximity. In other words, I am chopping it up with someone all the time because I see them daily at work or at school. Or you think you have sooooo much in common based on being at the same places or doing the same thing. I recognized, during this time period, some of my friendships faltered because they were convenient. On the other hand, I grew closer to other friends, some even unexpectedly. That season of change taught me that showing up for someone emotionally (with healthy boundaries of course) is just as important as being there physically. I had to be intentional and work towards the friendships I wanted to keep. For me, that looked like scheduling Facetime or phone conversations after work, remembering to reach out if I could not be there for an important life event. For you, it might look different.
Currently, I am in another season of change. Everything is new: My job, my city, my school programs, and the people I am around. I am out of my comfort zone even during things I am familiar such as my career path and being a student. Being in a season of change and making new friends often causes me to pause and think about the friendships and the people who have played an important role in my life thus far. I want my friendships to remain intact. But people don’t talk about the difficulty of that. That as you grow, you move, you accomplish things, you change. Not always for the best or the worst, but it is true, change is inevitable.
In fact, there have been times where change has been the only constant in my life. Change and being out of my comfort zone is my new familiar. And as much as I would love to say I embrace change, friendships can be the trickiest aspect to navigate.
It took time, but in that process, I recognized that the friendships that were supposed to be grew with me. I didn’t have to beg or feel like I was putting in overtime. The friendship was reciprocated and shifted as I was changing. Friendships are a two-way street. I’ve been lucky. Scratch that blessed. No scratch that. I worked hard to maintain the circle of friends I have. Because just like romantic relationships, friendships take a level of commitment. It takes being present. It takes holding yourself accountable. And it takes showing up. Most importantly, it takes reciprocity.
This process is all around humbling; I’m coming to terms with the reality and expectations I have on certain people. Like I used to just move on nonchalantly if I fell off or out with people but I’m starting to pause and be like, "You know what? Maybe that person showed up the best way that they could at the time. And am I showing up and giving my all? Do I even want to do that? Can I even do that?"
I also realized I can’t just text everyone all the time. Literally, a billion things are going on at once. Picking up the phone if they’re not local) or having an in-person conversation is the only way for me to retain the deep connected friendships I have had over the years. By doing this, I am pausing and focusing on the person in front of me and trying my hardest to give them my undivided attention.
There were friendships I held onto too long. Friendships I didn’t fight for. Friendships I worked/ am working hard to maintain. Most of all, I think about the friendships I want to keep. Most of all, I am learning when to hold on and let go of a friendship during my seasons of change. Like I said, it is a process, but I am so thankful for the community of friendship and love I have created over the last few years.
Patrice is currently a doctoral student studying education and co-owns an editorial and racial equity consulting business, ForeverWriot, with her two sister-scholar friends Kahlea and Ozy. Though she is from Dallas Texas, she currently resides in DC and is living her best East coast shawty life. In her free time she enjoys writing, reading for leisure, museums , watching reality TV, staying in her own lane , and brunching.