Friday, August 22, 2014

Lessons :: Thoughts on Friendship for a Friday (+ LINKUP)

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I've been trying this new thing where I'm not keeping score with the people in my life anymore.

And it's really, really hard.

I didn't even know I was doing it until recently, but I guess when something has been happening for so long it starts to seem right. It all started when I was very young, and I was taught to "treat others the way you want to be treated" and "kill them with kindness" and "turn the other cheek" when others were bad to you. Therefore, I was the target of a lot of bullying. It was easy because I would just sit there in silence, ignoring them like I thought I was supposed to. I was never taught to defend myself, so I didn't know how, and I didn't believe it was right; even as I got older, if I did speak up, I would immediately feel guilty. For the longest time, I remember only having two friends whom I spoke with regularly: one who didn't go to my school, and one who did, and she sat with me at lunch. Everyone else either made fun of me or ignored me, and my most precious moments during that time were spent in my room with my books.

In high school and college I began to open up more and started to become the self-professed Loudmouth that you now know. After a long stream of toxic friendships and abusive relationships, I got sick of it and began demanding what I deserved. Some called me too selfish and outspoken; others admired my bravery and said they wished they were more like me. I went back to having less people in my life, but this time it was by choice, and I was proud of it. "Quality over quantity" I'd say. Around that time, my dad told me I shouldn't be with anyone that wouldn't put in the same amount of effort as me. I couldn't agree more.

Recently, though, I've been thinking about things like grace and forgiveness and humility. Maybe it's hormones, maybe it's blog-reading, maybe it's growing up. But I've been looking back on the past few years, and I'm wondering if I've been too harsh. Am I asking for too much? Are my expectations too high?

I suppose I'm just trying to find a balance -- a way to compromise with others, without compromising what I want -- and I don't know how. How many times do you let someone hurt you before you bring it up? How many times do you bring it up before you let that person go? What's the point of keeping someone in your life who treats you like crap, especially if you've discussed it and nothing's changed? Is it possible to still love and forgive them, without having to stay friends? I'm trying to give without expecting anything in return, but it's hard. It's hard because I don't think that I should have to remain in any type of relationship that isn't affecting my life in a positive way. Where do you draw the line?

I used to waste a lot of time settling -- in my friendships, relationships, career life and everything else -- but I realized that I'd rather get rid of those so-so things and instead strive to find stuff that made my heart dance and sing. Yes, these sacrifices came with loneliness and sadness but it was all worth it in the end and though I continue to face challenges I become happier and more satisfied each year. I don't know how this process could possibly be wrong, yet I'm now wondering if it's un-Christian-like, and am I not being the good friend and girlfriend and person I thought I was? Are we supposed to let people take advantage of us? That goes against my entire manifesto and everything I believe in...

Even though my goal for this blog and my life is to inspire and motivate women, sometimes I need a little help myself. I think that's okay and valid and human. If you have a post on navigating friendships or relationships somewhere in your archives or if you'd like to write a response to this post, please link to it below. I'd love to read your thoughts and I'm sure others would as well.

In the meantime, I'm just going to continue doing the best I can. That's all any of us can do, right?

(I've never done a linkup before, so let me know if something doesn't work or looks funky!)

*Photo found here.
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