(This blog post was originally written in January of 2020, and due to a lot of life happening I did not post it on time. I decided to keep this post pretty much in original form, with a few revisions. The words still hold true, even in April.)
Now that 2019 has come to a close, I am beyond excited about the fresh start that 2020 will bring. Beginning a new year + a new decade feels like the start of something new, would you not agree? But in order to make room for the new things, you have to walk away from the old.
If you are like me, you probably had to let a lot go to close out the year. Despite whatever cliches people claim they do not follow, I always use the end of a year as an opportunity to shed things that are no longer serving me. Be it clothes, shoes, food, or even relationships, it all has to go!
2019 was a rather strange year for me in terms of my relationships with others. I suffered a lot of unexpected loss, honestly. My uncle passed in April, which set a series of events in motion that changed me tremendously and set my world on fire. You see, family has always been very important to me, but my family environment had become very toxic. (I know this is a term that has been so overwhelmingly used in 2019, so bare with me.) In addition to the usual, run of the mill family issues, we were sweeping some deep rooted issues under the rug. The rug was so lifted off the ground because of all of the chaos swept under it, that I finally reached my breaking point.
So I broke. As a result, so did a few of my non-familial relationships. During a time when I needed people the most, the ones I thought I could count on were no where to be found. And when the dust settled, I was met with a lack of empathy + a ton of dislike that had been hidden for so long.
So, I had to sit down and have a conversation with myself about how I wanted to navigate relationships moving forward. Just because things did not work out with a few people did not mean that I could risk abandoning ship and leaving friendships in the wind forever. So, I traded in my old way of doing things, and I learned what I need to do differently. I had to come to terms with the fact that I needed to let some things, and some people, go…for real this time.
The biggest lesson I have learned is that sometimes a door needs to stay closed, no matter who is knocking. I am the queen of second, and third, and fourth chances. I will forgive people and let them right back into my life no matter what wrong has been done. I try to give others the same grace I would want myself, so it is hard for me to stop letting people circle back around. The circle back does not serve me though. Nine times out of ten the relationship continues to display the same patterns as before, and someone ends up hurt. (Mostly me.) On the other hand, I too need to end the “circle back.” I will go searching for people I have not talked to in years to try to rekindle + rebuild something that is dead and gone. But why? Why do I have such a hard time letting go? I am still figuring this out, but I know sometimes I need to be left alone and leave others alone too.
If you never called, never sent a text, never showed up, would you still be friends? This is a hard pill to swallow, too. But I really do not think it’s fair to be the only person putting forth effort in any relationship. The level of effort may change, there will be give and take, but if someone is putting forth no effort at all…you know everything you need to know. Test it out. If you stop texting or calling a person first and you never hear from them again, you might want to keep it that way.
You can tell the story without tainting the characters. This one pretty much speaks for itself, right? Expressing how you feel about a person or a situation that occurred with said person does not have to diminish or defile their character. They are allowed to still be a good person, a good friend, good at what they do, etc. In the same breath, you can, in fact, tell the facts of a story without remotely getting your feelings involved. Let people decide for themselves, beloved. When you talk about a person enough, you start to influence how other people view them and feel about them. Now all of a sudden your venting session has ignited animosity within another person who has nothing to do with the situation at hand. It is hard to keep a neutral party, when only one side of the story is being told, and it is negative. Being on the receiving end of this has taught me to also be careful with who I talk to about an issue or challenge with someone else. Intermingling separate relationships like that can be a recipe for disaster. Most of the time it really is no one else’s business but you + the other person involved. So I check myself before I start telling someone a “story” and ask myself “what is your end goal?.” If I just want to be heard, I probably need to save the conversation for my therapist.
Everyone has their version of the same story, but the truth will always come to light. I am learning to stop defending myself when it comes to the things other people have to say about me, and man, this is hard. Although I am far from perfect and find myself making mistakes, it bothers me when people try to paint a false narrative about me. I honestly think it would bother anyone who is human. After defending myself and my character over so many years, it has become exhausting. People are going to believe what they want to anyways, so why waste the time trying to convince them otherwise?
Ask for what you need. As great of a communicator that I think I am, I have realized that I tend to hold a lot inside. This is mostly because I process things emotionally a lot quicker than others, and it is often hard for me to communicate with people who choose not to address their own emotions. I will let many small things turn into big things and eventually air out all of my grievances, leaving the other person confused. I have adopted some passive aggressive behaviors that I am beginning to notice and address. In order to receive what I require of the relationships in my life, I have to express those needs.
Learn your people’s love languages. I started sending my friends the quiz to find out what their love languages are. I know that I can be a great friend, but if I am not loving someone how they need, it really does not matter how great I think I am. I want to make sure that I really am living up to the “great friend” standard, so I am working on paying more attention to what others say they need from me and being okay with doing just that. I think I try to love people how I want to be loved or how I think they should be loved, and over time I have realized this is quite counter productive.
Speaking of love languages and needs, it is okay to teach people. I have talked about this concept on both Twitter and Instagram—society has convinced us that we are above teaching people how to love us and how to be there for us. This train of thinking destructs relationships before they even begin. People do not have the blueprint for you when the first meet you. They do not know what you need. You have to show them and give them the opportunity to rise to the occasion. This also means that you have to know what you need, but that is a conversation for a later time…
Forfeit the battle to win the war. Sometimes it just is not worth it, okay? I have had many minor issues with friends that caused the end of a relationship when things could have gone differently. You have to decide what is important—the relationship itself or being right? It may be better to agree to disagree than throw away a forever friend over a temporary situation or disagreement. Losing my uncle affirmed for me that life really is short, and some things just do not matter in the grand scheme of things.
So I am sitting down with myself + the people (figuratively) who have to go. I am being honest, vulnerable, and direct. I am taking ownership for my mistakes and wrong doings and I am saying goodbye. Because the truth is, although I let a lot of the wrong people get too comfortable with me in 2019, I really got too comfortable with myself. I am making those necessary corrections now, shout out to Rob Hill Sr.
What, or who, are you sitting down with? Part II of this blog post will discuss the habits + lifestyle practices that I assessed closing out the year and the changes I needed to make. It is healthy to check in with yourself + your relationships when entering into a new phase of life. While you can use the fresh start as a chance to do things differently, do not be afraid to make those changes at any time. A fresh start can be a new hour, new year, new decade.
“The best is yet to come.” x Frank Sinatra