I am currently taking applications for (some) new friends.
Must love dogs, like happy hours and really enjoy bad jokes (or have a solid sympathy laugh ready at any given moment).
Lately, I’ve spent quite a bit of time lamenting—on relationships both past and present and the effects each has had on my collective experiences.
The ebb and flow of both romantic and platonic partnerships has proven to be more than I can handle at times.
People flood in and then out of my life.
I struggle to understanding why some, who have been a part of my life for years, have now retreated and how blessed I am to have others showing up to fill that perceived void.
It’s emotional—and at times, painful—to sit with this constant change in my life. But, I know the shift is serving a specific purpose.
I’ve dealt with a handful of incredibly toxic relationships in my life—based on what I could give to the other or what the other could provide for me.
An exhausting existence, to say the least.
I drained myself, attempting to hang on to what I thought was long-term and I have no doubt similar there were similar feelings on the opposite end. I was hurt more than I was uplifted or encouraged but it felt normal.
We can’t always get what we want, right?
None of us are one in the same—we each have our quirks, our gifts to give, experiences that shape our interactions with others. I understand this and I can respect that we don’t all function in the same manner.
But when those differences beget interactions that are intended to be hurtful, there comes a time where a decision must be made—even if it hurts.
To hang on, or to let go—despite the years of conversations and connection in good times and in bad.
There comes a point where we must shift toward those who understand who we are—and accept us without question.
The act of letting go must be linked to the understanding that we are not here to get from others, but to give. In knowing that a friendship cannot fill some emotional hole I have, I am better able to understand and work toward patching that wound myself.
If I’m not whole, who will make me so?
My recent hyper focus on the importance of my relationships may be directly related to the season of change I am in (with just about everything).
I’ve started to shed old skin—a necessary task in making room for the new.
I had no intention to shake things up on the friendship/relationship front but as it continues to rest heavily on my mind, I’m starting to realize that this, too, is in preparation for a new season.
A better season.
I am on the hunt for my tribe—a group of deeply connected individuals who are not present to simply receive when they need it, but who are also capable and grateful to give when the time comes.
It has been an interesting path to this point for me, as the majority of my “closest” friends have become nothing more than an additional friend/follower on social media over the course of the last two years.
I see what they are doing and I assume they see what’s happening in my life—but the connection is gone.
As that has deteriorated, so has my desire to rekindle what we once had. I don’t feel the need to get dinner or meet for a drink, something that used to be a staple in my weekend plans, nearly every weekend.
When I started to get comfortable with the fact that those connections no longer existed in the same way they did five years ago, I started to get concerned that I was on the verge of becoming a hermit—no friends, no one to call when I needed a dose of the giggles and, more than anything, an empty social calendar.
An empty social calendar can be awfully depressing to a twenty-something and I wasn’t ready to trudge down that road, alone. I gave quite a bit of consideration to reaching out in an effort to bring my past connections back to life, but in the midst of a “who do I text first” crisis of sorts, I calmly set down my phone.
I’ve known for a while now that my past relationships served the purpose they were intended to serve, even if it took me years to fully understand what that purpose was.
I was challenged with was the reason they were ending. My tribe was not who I thought they were and I was not part of theirs.
Knowing who we are as unique individuals, with different gifts and various paths is one thing—but standing in that truth with equal parts conviction and pride is most definitely another.
I have been acutely aware of the former for some time now, even as it continues to evolve on what feels like a daily basis. The latter, not so much.
As I shift into my purpose, it makes perfect sense that those who are not aligned with it fades into the background. Although this process seems like a total loss, that simply isn’t the truth.
I have been reminded of the purposes served through those relationships—growth and grounding being at the forefront, with the ability to exercise my empathy muscle coming in a close second.
I learned how to be humble as well as grateful and how to deal with intentional hurt and crushing disappointment. My friends have served me well in the time I needed them the most—and my hope is that they gained what they needed during that time as well.
But, now, my tribe waits.
As I stand taller and more confident in who I am, it seems I am ready to be in the midst of those who are standing, with equal parts conviction and pride, in who they are as well.
It is no longer about a give and take but about connection on a level we can’t really explain.
A new season, an altered path, and, quite fortunately, a different type of tribe.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock
Photo: Gigi Livorno, Flickr