Many times when people hear the word grief, they immediately think of death. But by definition, grief is just the natural response to loss. Believe it or not, we’re grieving more than we know. Sometimes it’s the physical loss of a person, a job, a relationship, or even the loss of a situation such as “the way things were.” Allow yourself to grieve on behalf of whatever it is. Feel the emotions of it all. Understand that grief is actually a very integral part of the human experience and when we don’t acknowledge it or we try to rush through it, it can actually be to our detriment. Mindfulness reminds us to take the necessary steps in order to move forward and be at peace.
So my daughter is entering 10th grade this year and I asked her what were some of her goals for the upcoming school year. She's a theatre arts major so of course she mentioned perfecting her craft in that area, she's also a dancer so she wants to hone in more on her choreography skills, and she wants to continue to stay focused and get good grades. But one thing that stood out to me the most was when she said she wanted to gain new friendships. So of course I asked her if she felt like she was phasing out of her old friendships, she said "No, there are just quite a few people that I think are pretty cool, they seem nice, I think we would get along, and I want to get to know them." That took me back to when she was in pre-school when she was so excited about meeting new friends and would eagerly walk up to other kids and say "Hey, my name is Ramiyah! What's your name?" As a mom and a social worker, that made my heart smile because from then on, I knew that she would be alright. Even as a little girl, she valued making quality connections with others which is something I think is not only important but should be made a priority.
So here's a little secret about me, I'm so not into small talk. I'm a deep thinker, I analyze, I connect dots, I seek to understand, and I value others' perspectives. I've just never been fortunate enough to experience those things through "small talk". I enjoy the journey of meeting new people, learning what makes them happy, sad, frustrated, confused, etc. And true friendships gives me so much more leeway to explore that. A huge compliment I feel that I receive when it comes to my books is how much I highlight and dive into the friendships of my protagonists. There's a reason that friendships are prioritized in my books as well as in my life:
1. True friendships has increased my emotional intelligence. This is probably one of the most important ones for me. True authentic relationships reminds you that it is not always about you. I know we live in a very independent world and everyone wants to have their own agenda, but emotional intelligence tends to get lost when that's our primary focus. I can honestly say that there are very few people that I call "friend", but the friends that I have are all very unique within their own right. This has taught me to truly understand who each of them are individually, how and when to respond to them, which activities to engage in with them, how they best take heed to information, and what matters to them the most. I have also learned self-awareness and how to effectively express myself to them as well. Emotional intelligence is a life-long skill that can help you in any area of your life. I attribute to learning more about EI through true friendships.
2. Quality rather than quantity. I have friends I talk to almost every other day, weekly, monthly, yearly and maybe even a few years at a time. And my true friendships typically pick up right where we left off. Time does not define what we share but the connection always remains. I remember meeting a friend once and it was seriously "friend at first site". Whenever we see each other, the love, respect, and happiness for one another is always there because we value the quality of the friendship. We encourage and praise each other's growth, we're there during the not-so-good times, and we're intentional about prioritizing our friendship. We probably speak to each other once or twice a month on average outside of social media, but our friendship is very purposeful. I know a huge contributing factor regarding how we "work" as friends is due to our emotional intelligence.
3. They allow you to be authentically you. True friends actually enjoy you being YOU. So yes, you might not agree on everything or even lead vastly different lifestyles, but you find comfort in accepting and embracing each other. When someone truly embraces you, they enjoy learning about and from you. They don't seek to tear you down or make underhanded comments regarding the choices you've made or that you're currently making. They listen to you, they offer their heartfelt opinion if asked, and they allow you to be authentically you. They don't disappear at the first sign of discomfort or a disagreement, they don't try to mold you into anyone you're not, and they celebrate you. I enjoy being this for my friends and I enjoy it when it's returned.
As you ponder over your friendships, how important are they to you? Do you feel like you prioritize your friendships? Are your friendships shifting or have they remained the same? Do you feel like your friendships are missing anything? How satisfying are your current friendships?