When I was growing up, I was taught that there are “leaders” and there are “followers”. I always believed my brother got all the leadership abilities in the family. I admired the way he marched to his own beat and didn’t seem to care what others thought. But I constantly found myself being a follower of the crowd. Not in the obvious way where I would get myself into a lot of trouble luckily, but I just always eventually realized I wasn’t thinking for myself and wasn’t being myself, and it was extremely lonely. After all, what good is it if the you people love isn’t really you?
But recently, I found myself still doing that. I’m 24 years old, married, with two kids, and was still getting into friendships and not being myself. I was still putting myself into whatever tiny box they made for me and conforming to the person they wanted me to be. But then, the friendships ended. And I felt so… light. Sure, I was upset and hurt; but still, everything felt so much lighter. I was “allowed” to be myself. I was “allowed” to be this open-minded, confident, passionate, loving, silly, free spirit that I’ve always been. No longer was I imprisoned by the question, “What would _____ think?” That alone has been incredibly freeing.
I got a glimpse of what it might feel like right before the friendships ended because we hadn’t really talked for a couple of weeks. I was working on my relationship with God, my role as a wife, a mother, an individual… And they were busy with their own lives. I became truly happy and at peace for the first time, maybe ever, and it felt like a miracle. Then suddenly, the happier version of me I’ve been fighting for felt like it was a problem for them. And when given the choice between continuing the friendships and admitting that “miracle” was impossible OR letting the friendships go and trusting myself and what I believe God had been doing in my life, well… I politely had to say, “SEE YA.”
I STOOD UP FOR MYSELF. ME. A “FOLLOWER”. Spoke UP. And I’ve basically been thriving ever since. I don’t have any close friends at the moment, but I don’t feel lonely either. You know what I do feel? Joy. Because I have been able to be who I am without the fear of losing something or someone.
I’m not gonna lie though — it’s hard sometimes. I love Braxton, but there are days where I really do crave that “girl talk”. But I’ve also come to accept that there are some times in my life where Braxton may be my only friend. And what an awesome friend he is to have! I’d rather have one, really awesome, [though, really male] friend who loves me for me, over any number of girlfriends who don’t value me and have me live in fear over losing them if I say one “wrong” thing.
And maybe you’re reading this and don’t currently have a significant other in your life to be that “one friend” during those times. That’s okay! I’ve been there too, and it’s seriously been a blessing. I always feel like God is just like, “Okay, Briana. It’s time to focus on you and nobody else right now.” Honestly, the seasons I’ve been without friends [whether including or excluding Braxton] have always been the seasons in which I grow the most as an individual!
So I wanna encourage you; whether you’re still investing time and energy into toxic friendships out of fear of being alone, or you’re currently in that season without friendships; time alone doesn’t have to be lonely. Sometimes it’s God giving you exactly what you need. Take the time to discover who you are and what you feel your purpose is in life, then live your life intentionally to become the best version of that person.
Friends will come again. And when they do, make sure they’re people who want to support and encourage you [as well as be humbly honest with you because sometimes we need another perspective]. If you’re constantly leaving them feeling discouraged and drained, it’s probably not a healthy friendship. It’s okay to take a step back. As unfortunate as it may sound, not everyone is meant to be friends. But you will find your kind of people, and they will love YOU!
Don’t think because you’ve always been a “follower of the crowd” that it’s just the way you are and can’t be changed. I know from experience how heavy that can feel; to think you’re never gonna be able to be yourself due to the inability to speak up for yourself. But trust me; all it takes is one time to speak up and then it gets easier with each time after that. It also gets easier to recognize when you need to.
So how have you been feeling? Are your friendships leaving you drained and feeling negative or encouraged and uplifted? Have you found your people? If you haven’t, that’s okay! Use this time to grow as an individual without all the distractions. You might be surprised how much you enjoy it!