This morning I read an article entitled Four Ways to Avoid Unnecessary Friendship Drama on Essence.com. I thought it was honest and poignant, unlike many articles about friendship. The article, written by Charli Penn, featured friendship expert (I did not know such a thing existed formerly) Shasta Nelson who authored the book Friendships Don't Just Happen!. Of the four ways listed, the first one struck a chord immediately. The question posed was How can I show up a little more thoughtfully? In her answer, Nelson asks: "she may be jealous, and we don’t want to play smaller to avoid her jealousy, but could we affirm her more?" POW!
I read that quote over and over and over again. It made me think of something my girlfriend Michele told me years ago. I was meeting up with some friends I had known for a long time, but had only recently started hanging out with. I wanted to look nice (that's just how I am), but was trying not to shine too much. The article of clothing in question was my floor-length, fur-trimmed, shearling coat equipped with a big dramatic Little Red Riding Hood-esque hood and a rhinestone embellished tied closure. I was hanging with Michele before the get-together and was telling her how I had apprehensions about wearing the coat, especially wearing it and stepping out of my "luxury" vehicle. I did not know what message I would be sending and thought it best to play it down a bit with a more sensible and casual coat. Michele, whom I first met when I was 19 and she was too grown to invite me to any of her parties or functions with her other grown-ass friends, said this: "if they're your friends they will accept you just the way you are. Fur coat and all."
When I read the article today, I had an aha moment that reverberated from the past. I no longer want to play smaller to avoid someone else's jealousy. Although I already try to make a point of doing this, I will consciously affirm my friends more. If we are friends, let's be that and accept each other, not just flaws and all, but blessings, good attributes and all. Friendship has been on my mind a lot lately. Mainly because of some recent shifts in my friendship-sphere. I say shifts because I cannot fully point them out nor define them definitely as problems, but something is amiss. My instinct is to look inward, which is always important, but that can be faulty in terms of not taking into account the other party's issue(s). I cannot think of a better bond than the one between womenfolk. However, with that bond, as with any other bond, insecurities can erupt. I want to celebrate my girlfriends and have that love be reciprocated. If I cannot be all of me around my friends, than with whom can I be myself? Michele, as usual, was right. Maybe she should be a friendship expert.