One of my chief struggles in life has always been fitting in. I grew up in a world that was outside the norm for most, and in my constantly changing world spent the majority of my life putting on the mask that I thought was appropriate at the time – liking what this person liked and saying what this person said so that I would be liked. I was always in a random age bracket with most of my friends being years younger or years older than me. And I lived in an “in between” life….American in an African world or African in an American world. So there has always been an identity crisis of sorts going on within me.
In the past few years that crisis was more spiritual than anything. A recent blog recapped some of that struggle. However, now having come to terms with me – i.e. I know who I am and I like me – I find myself at a different crossroads. Who are my friends?
Let me preface the rest of this blog by the following statement: I have some deep abiding friendships that have outlasted change and struggles and pain on both sides. Beautiful friends that can pick up right where we left off no matter how many years and miles fill in gap between us. And lovely friends that know the deepest parts of me and love me without reservation and vice versa.
It’s just that few of these friends live here….
I really don’t have those kinds of friendships here in Dallas. In fact, to be quite honest I find that I have struggled to find these friends since moving to Texas twelve years ago. It is rare that I get a phone call or an invite to hang out. While I have pursued some friendships, I have found that I seem to always be the pursuer and I seem to be just on the outside of whatever circle in which I try to be a part.
At one point in my life I had a ‘take what you can get’ attitude towards “friends”. Whoever accepted whatever version of me was showing at the the time got the friend card. However, because I was constantly living a lie what I found was that when I felt comfortable enough to take the mask off these so called “friends” went running in another direction. Leaving me once again floundering for some sort of community…so I would put on a new mask and embark to find a new group. And the cycle continued.
The problem is the cycle has not really stopped. Now I know who I am. For the first time in a very long time I am healthy, mentally stable, and have a genuine positive attitude towards life and yet it seems that this time in my life is where the biggest struggle for friends has manifested – and I have no idea why that is. I wonder if I put myself out there as too busy, so people think I have something going on and don’t think to invite me to do things with them. Or if I don’t pursue others enough for them to pursue me back. Or if in my identity crisis I just lost all capability of finding friends that just wanna be friends.
There is still a struggle here. A struggle of lonely nights when all of the others that call themselves my friends are hanging out and I am at home alone. A struggle to figure out…if something is wrong with me or if I simply once again have lost those I called friend when I took the mask off. This is not meant to be a pity party just a vulnerable glance into reality.
I recently heard an amazing sermon on performance based relationships. How that this world demands performance and that if we don’t perform the way they want us to they simply don’t think of us, cut us out of their lives – we stopped getting invited to things, our phone never rings (or in this age the texts never come). Yet for some reason we chase after these relationships over and over again trying to perform and gain acceptance and it is simply exhausting. The challenge to this sermon was that God loves me no matter how I perform – in fact, for Him I don’t have to perform at all – the Word simply says that He longs to be my friend. This truth was amazing to me…while I have been so wrapped up in trying to find a friend here in Texas – someone who just picks up the phone and says lets hang out…I had one who has been pursuing my heart since the beginning of time – a Creator, a Savior, a God – who calls me friend. With Him I always fit in, with Him no matter what my past – He loves me, with Him I do not have to wear a mask, I do not have to perform, He simply loves me and calls me friend.