I’ve been using this stage in my 20s to analyze my connections with people, and I came to a realization: I have a love/hate relationship with my relationships with women.
I live for genuine, supportive bonds, beauty tips, and the looks that can carry a conversation without words, but, there’s also a darker side. While I credit being a woman as the source of my strength, it is also a detriment to my sanity. Don’t worry, I’ll explain…Many [Black] women will agree that, generally, we are conditioned to distrust each other; Madamenoire delves deeper (and better) into this truth here, but I’ve always been warned to proceed with caution when pursuing female friendships.
Some time ago, I was watching Demi Lovato’s “Simply Complicated” documentary, where she discussed developing a “social anxiety” towards girls in school her own age because she lacked trust from being bullied…and I REALLY felt that. (I wouldn’t go as far as saying I developed anxiety, but I surely faced enough of the same issues to feel triggered.)
This isn’t one of those “they called me weird and didn’t let me play in the sandbox in 1st grade, so now I hate everyone” moments, but I think it’s important to revisit the past to examine and understand our present circumstances. I’ve experienced some level of bullying by women for as long as I can remember, young women who I once considered friends, to be more specific. I’ve lost count of how many times a “friend” has bad mouthed me behind my back, tried to slut-shame me, or denied we were ever friends in the first place (which is a TOTAL mindf*ck, tbh).
Oh, and those f*cking CLIQUES! I swore off of those because…exhausted. From cubbies to college, the story was always the same: I meet girls, we have fun/form friendships, someone has a problem [then tells everyone else], I’m singled out for attack and BOOM, girl group over. It was an ongoing cycle of confusion, betrayal, and things left unsaid, and after years of this, I just grew weary of trusting women all together.
I could say it’s all of their faults; they were all obviously just jealous of me and/or felt threatened. I hate throwing the ‘jealous’/’insecure’ label on people, though, because it’s so dismissive, and I like to believe that people have concrete, legitimate reasons for disliking someone. I want(ed) to understand why I was being treated this way.
I soon realized, however, that the understanding I yearned for was a two-way street— I needed to understand my own role in the chain of events just as much as I wanted to understand why I kept finding myself in toxic female friendships.
had have to take a long look at the darkest, pettiest parts of me and check myself; I’m normally very self-aware, but this took some serious nerve. I asked, “What are the hardest parts of myself to face” and “how do these parts manifest themselves in my relationships?” Here are some things I’ve realized about myself, in terms of friendship:
- “Most times, I don’t give a f*ck.” DO NOT mistake this for I’m a terrible friend. [Whenever possible] I show up, I stan, and offer an ear, a word, or hug at my loved ones’ leisure (I could improve on the literal ‘showing up’ part…signed, washed & lazy). The ‘f*ck it’ in my system comes with how I receive others; it takes a HELLUVA a lot to affect or offend me. I don’t get hung up over how I often I talk to friends/family, nor do I give many people the opportunity to unnerve me.
- “I think that everyone thinks and moves like me.” This is an extension of the former point—just because I don’t care about something, I assume that everyone else won’t care. I project my thick skin, if you will, onto others, and this can make me do some very selfish things. It’s not that I’m genuinely trying to be selfish, it’s more so “if someone did this to me, I wouldn’t really care.” LORD KNOWS I’m still working through this one especially, but I find a little comfort in knowing that the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem 🙂
- “I have NO problem with walking away” ...I guess this is kinda part C to the first point??? (*sends therapy invoice to myself*, DAMN) Without going too deep, I’ll tell you that I’ve experienced way deeper losses than friendships. Having said that, I don’t fight the way that I probably should for a lot of strained bonds. I’d like to think that this ‘swiftness’ came from my history of letting go of friendships so frequently; since people had no problems with singling me out, I had even less of a problem with removing myself.
- “I hate confrontation.” Well, I hate the negative connotations of confrontation (which were the ONLY ones I had for awhile). Backstory: I come from a family of extremely confrontational women, and the sh*t seemed stressful so I wanted desperately to take a different route. I’d often try to avoid confrontation, and conflict altogether, which is obviously impossible. Thankfully, I think I’ve been the best with conquering this flaw; with time (and a BOMB conflict management professor), I realized that confrontation does not have to be combative, and can be effective in getting your needs met. I should address my problems (and the source) directly and respectfully in an effort to achieve the best outcome.
I say all of this to say that now is the time where I’m being real about my own flaws in order to be a better woman, and to be a better friend to other women. I believe we all need to stop side stepping our flaws out of fear, and work toward living in our complete truth. Whether or not the flaws I’ve admitted are the direct cause of my drama, I’ll never know, but, I take accountability for whatever part I’ve played.
I challenge all of our readers (not just women), if they haven’t already, to dig deep and check yourselves: on your attitude, outlook, and the type of energy you exude. We all have our small, petty moments, but strive to demonstrate strength, encouragement, ACCOUNTABILITY, and positivity in all of your relationships. After all, you can’t possibly be a real friend to others if you aren’t real with yourself.
Written By: B. Sierra