It is human nature to seek community and build relationships. This comes from a primal need to live; someone had to tend to the fire while someone else hunted the food to eat.
In 2022 we aren’t worried about the same things we were thousands of years ago, but the relationships we have in our lives are still some of the most important things to nourish and maintain. They take work and effort, but they – to a primal extent – are what keep us alive.
When you strip everything else away, what really matters is who’s around you to celebrate life’s greatest successes and who’s there to catch you when life knocks you down. Our people are important, we need to treat them as such.
If you saw the word relationship and came here for romantic advice, I’d keep looking. The title probably gave away that I haven’t quite figured that out yet. But, your girl is a breakup master.
No photos, please. Give your friend a key to your house. Tell them to take his photo out of all the frames he’s in. You won’t be strong enough to do it yourself right away, but it’s necessary.
Delete the text messages. If you need them someday, I’m sure they’re stored in the “cloud” somewhere. You won’t need them.
Scream-singing is cheaper than therapy. Listen to “Best Thing I Never Had” by Beyonce on repeat until you feel better. Don’t keep count.
Who’s ready for a mood boost?
Friendships, on the other hand, are something I’m pretty good at. I’m blessed to have a lot of close friends. None of my friendships are the same, they all represent various phases of my life, and all serve a different purpose.
You can’t make new old friends. I met a group of boys on the first day of kindergarten. To this day, they are my favorite pains in my butt. When I need grounding, I go to them. Nobody else knows what sacrifices were made on the kickball fields from 2001 to 2006. And nobody else but them was there to stand up to bullies for their teeny tiny girl friend Caite. We don’t talk every day and as we’ve grown up and none of us took similar paths. But we picked each other to be on our teams then and we’re still picking each other now.
Have an “I need to cry” cry friend. Some people are solo criers. I am not one of those people. When something sends me to tears or I feel them coming on, I call my friend Lauren. This started years ago. I met Lauren at the start of my freshman year of college. That winter break (yep, like three months later), I had three family members in the hospital at once. I was having an overwhelming moment and found myself calling my new friend. I said something like “Hi – I just really need to cry” and cry I did. Kind of a big ask for a young friendship, but that day Lauren became my cry friend. Eight years later, she’s still who I call when I need a cry. Pro tip: use your most level-headed friend. This person’s main job is to listen, and not judge you … or at least do so silently.
Tell your friends what you love about them. This one seems simple, but I bet you don’t do it as much as you should. Telling your friends “I love you” is one thing. Getting specific about why you value their friendship or what you admire about them is totally different. Before you read any further, grab your phone and text your bestie about something you love about them. You’re both welcome.
I had two full-time positions before starting my own business. I didn’t get either job by submitting a resume, having the best cover letter, and nailing the interviews. In fact, I was introduced to both from a family friend who knew someone who worked at the organization. I still went through the same process as other candidates, but having that personal relationship to get the conversation started helped me tremendously.
Once I was in those roles, I worked really hard. Considering I’ve had lunch with both of those previous bosses in the last week, I must’ve done okay.
Have a mentor. One day I’ll tell you all my life-changing moment that happened in March 2016 and sparked my whole career. Today isn’t that day. But March of 2016 is when I met Mary Hewitt, Executive Director of the Los Angeles County Alliance for Boys & Girls Clubs. She’s a powerhouse. I reached out to her immediately after attending an event she hosted. I started interning for her a few weeks later and I’ve kept her updated on every step of my career since. We chatted yesterday.
Coworkers are people too. Get to know your coworkers. Heck, even become friends with them if you want. I am making the invitations for one of my coworker, turned friend’s upcoming wedding.
Take a little bit of each job with you. In 2019 one of the managers I worked with at Phoenix Children’s Hospital gave every member of her immediate team a confetti champagne bottle to pop when they had a “big win.” She was kind enough to buy one for me too. Theirs were bought with the intention to celebrate a five or six-figure monetary commitment from a corporate partner. In June of 2020 when I packed up my desk from that job, I took my sealed confetti champagne bottle with me. I was determined to pop it one day. A couple of weeks ago I received my first grant funding for a client as The Good Word, Co. That day I sent Susan a video of me popping that dang bottle in my guest room/office. I knew I’d use it one day.
Every family is different, yet I think a lot of us face very similar obstacles. Family dynamics can be hard, but (within reason) it is super important to keep them close. Kind of like my friends from kindergarten, these relationships are not replaceable.
Listen to your grandparents’ stories. Y’all our grandparents’ generation saw some life. And I know our attention spans are shortened every day because of Tik Tok, but pay attention to their stories. There are lessons in their stories for generations to come. For years my brother had dinner with our grandparents every Tuesday night. He came home repeating the coolest stories my grandfather had told him. I remember him saying, “I just let him talk, and every week I ask for a different story.” It was as simple as giving my grandpa an audience and then listening to what he had to say.
Have a chosen family too. We don’t pick our families. But like them or not, they have the greatest impact on who we become. If you are a person of faith like me, I think God places us in the families we need to become the people the world needs us to be. But, in some cases you must look outside of your blood to generate those healthy familial relationships. And. That. Is. Okay. If you are an only child, go find yourself some super close friends who can stand in as your siblings. If your parents are only children, seek out family friends to act like aunts and uncles. Chosen families rock.
Your mom is probably right. This one kind of explains itself. Moms have superpowers and one of them is intuition. Listen to her advice even when it’s annoying. Then give her a hug and tell her thank you.
Do your part
As you can see, we all have a lot of relationships to maintain in our lives. No purse, car, house, or thing is going to bring you the joy we get from the people close to us. Prioritize the positive relationships in your life, and let those people know how much you care.