No, I won’t be coming to your girls night out. Why I am not a friend for everyone and am finally okay with it.
She said, “no”, and it set me free. She said, “I’ll take my own car” and it set me free. She said, “ I don’t feel like it tonight” and my heart sang. My best friends will always be the ones that are not available.
From an early age, as women, we are taught to be kind. We are taught to be sensitive to others feelings, and sometimes that includes doing things you don’t want to do. Going places you don’t want to go and spending less time doing exactly what you would like to be doing. Our Mother’s either showed us by modeling the behavior, or by reminding us of our manners, when the time came.
I was very clear, by the time I reached my twenties, what a good friend “looks like” and with this came awareness of the guilt when I wasn’t being a “good friend”. In my head, I should be available every time you need me. I should go out to the club, even if I’d rather stay home and watch Beverly Hills 90210….and I should never, ever use complete honesty and say “because I would rather lay on the couch with a bag of Cheetos, then go to the movies.” That would just be rude, and definitely NOT a good friend.
I minded my manners, even with the conflicting messages in my head. I did this, until I met my first “adult” friend. The first woman I had met that just said “No.”
- She said no, and didn’t wait to see how it made me feel.
- She said no, and continued on with what she was doing.
- She said no and it didn’t have an excuse that followed.
She didn’t want to do what I was asking…..and that was perfectly just fine by me. I will admit, at first I was a bit taken aback. “Ummmm….okay?????” I felt a bit, I don’t know……offended maybe? This behavior continued…….we had plans to go out that night…..and she would rather drive separately. When questioned, she responded, “Because when I want to leave, I want to be able to leave without having to wait if you aren’t ready.” My heart sang. YES!!! Of course, THIS!
Now in my mid-forties, women paint pottery together. They organize “girl’s night out” or go shopping together. In my inbox, I get invitations for Scentsy parties and craft nights. Ugh. I say “ugh” not because I’m a bitch (although it’s been known to happen), but because I don’t enjoy getting together with “the girls”. There, I said it. I would rather lay on my couch and watch Real Housewives scream at each other. Actually, I would rather sit in my living room and hear my kids scream at each other. Is this because I don’t like you? Probably not, it’s me…..not you.
So…..this begs the question, am I a bad friend?
To answer this question, I needed to clearly define my intentions around friendship in my forties. I talk a lot about intentions. I set my intentions for my day. I set my intentions for my career, parenting, marriage, and in all other areas of life. Clearly, I needed to set my intentions for friendship in my forties, and that looks very different than it did in my twenties.
- I want to be supported, and support you, with clear boundaries.
- I want to enjoy each others company, and then go our separate ways. Not linger uncomfortably.
- I want to put my family first, and not have to deal with your hurt feelings about it.
- I want to say No, and not offer an excuse. Not feel pressured to make something up.
- I want to hear what I could do…..and not what I should do.
- I want to talk about my kids accomplishments, without being judged.
- I want to talk about my kids failures without being judged.
- I want to talk, really talk and not leave our conversation with doubts.
- I want to skip the small talk and talk about the real issues in our lives.
- I want to take the mask off, and to see you mask free as well.
- I want to be able to drop an F-bomb without feeling creepy (don’t judge, it’s important).
- I want to exchange ideas about the bigger issues in life, not spend our time talking about other peoples lives.
- I want to dream together, play together, build together and motivate each other.
By setting my intentions, it helped me to clear the cob webs in my head surrounding adult friendships. It helped me to take a more precise look at myself. Am I offering these things as well? Instead of sitting back and complaining about women and their idiosyncrasies, setting my intentions, forced me to get a feel for the particular kind of energy I was putting out there. Was I being honest about who I was? Was I being honest about what I was offering? It took me years to figure out what kind of friend I am , and what kind of friends I truly want.
With my forties came many realizations, and one of them is this…..I am not the girls night out friend and that’s okay. I am the forever friend. I am the friend who comes over in her pajamas and watches trash TV with you. I am the friend that always forgives and never places guilt on you for being who you are. I am the friend you can say No to and not give an excuse. I am also the friend that will hear you, not just listen to you. I know what I have to offer in a friendship, and I know what I lack as a friend.
You are my friend if you are confident enough to deal with the fact that I don’t need you. I say that with projection….utter and total projection! Wouldn’t you rather be wanted than needed? I would.
I am a refined taste, sort of like a good beer. I am not for everyone, but I am for the strong women! I am for the women who are just fine on their own, but enjoy a good belly laugh from time to time I am for the woman who cusses, or the woman who doesn’t, but also doesn’t shrink when she hears the word Fuck from me on occasion. I am for the woman who can talk about sex, openly, loudly and without apology. I am for the woman who doesn’t need in a group setting, but in our darkest hours we lean on each other and NEED with all of our energy, crying until there are no tears left. Make no mistake, I am there if you need me, but I am not there for the parties, not there for the girls nights and not there if my heart isn’t in it. I won’t be planning your next craft night with you and I won’t be discussing which shirt you should buy at the mall.
So, that girl I met in my twenties, taught me to accept who I am as a person, without apology. We are now best friends twenty years later, and I am there for her and she is there for me, without question. We both know this, we both accept each other’s lack of need. This has created a forever friendship.
This has also created a bar by which I measure new friendships against. I am creating my girls…….but make no mistake, you will not find us at a girls night out. You will not find us politely engaging in conversation or sitting back with hurt feelings. You will find us on a mountain top with blood running down our legs from hiking, applauding the battle scar we have created. You will find us spending time with our own families, because THAT is our priority. You will find us speaking our minds, having educated opinions and yes, sometimes hurting your feelings with our honesty. You will find us communicating in the form of texting (because phones are too much of a commitment) self- deprecating, sometimes rude, but hilarious things to each other and never apologizing for who we are…….or who we aren’t.
In determining who I am as a friend, I realized I have a sisterhood…..I just had to be me…exactly, me with no apologies. This is a sisterhood, an unbreakable sisterhood I am building with new friends and old friends who are beginning to understand who I am and who I am not. Some will stay the course, and some will not…..and I am just fine with that.
Happiness in Small Bites
Anxiety is a bitch. As an adult, the anxiety I always struggled with, took a new face. This face was much more deceptive….this face came when I was at my happiest point, over and over again. When I finally left my childhood home, I believed my anxiety would take a back seat. I was no longer surrounded by chaos, I was in charge of my life and in charge of my own happiness. As my adult life began to take form, I noticed an annoying voice in my head. It only visited when I was at my happiest points.
At first, she visited when I would look into my new husband’s eyes. He has a way of looking at me that lets me know I am accepted, exactly the way I am. Pure happiness. Then she would speak…….”don’t fuck this up Kerry, you know you tend to sabotage things”. Or….”Don’t be stupid Kerry, this might not last”. Sitting, watching my kids play…..I would feel an overwhelming warmth in my heart, a full, almost dizzy feeling in my head…..YES, this is happiness. Almost directly after, a voice would threaten to take it all away…..”I hope they stay healthy, or I hope we stay safe.”
I learned at an early age to not trust happiness, as it can and will be taken away. Anxiety knew this. Anxiety reminded me of this on a daily basis. Anxiety put the weight of happiness on my shoulders and threatened that if I didn’t keep control, it would be taken from me. At any moment, it can be taken from me. Terrifying.
Two years ago, I began to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is SUCH a trendy word right now, and I hate that due to the many gifts it has given me. Mindfulness has literally set me free. It has taken anxiety, and kicked her ass. Mindfulness taught me to take my happiness in small bites. A much easier way to digest happiness. When I began to feel happiness in the moment, I would just be aware of the feeling. How did my body feel? It felt heavy with worry. My stomach felt tight and sick. How did my head feel? It felt dizzy and full. What was the present thought in my head? Fear was the thought…..fear was always the thought. Catastrophizing the what if, as if to punish myself over and over again, for just being happy. By just making it a moment…..I didn’t pin any hopes and dreams to it. I didn’t have to worry about what came next, because this was just a moment. Anxiety relented for just a moment. Deep breathe in. Happiness wasn’t about control, it was just about a feeling….in a moment.
I began to be present each time I felt the feeling of happiness…..just lean in, not expecting anything and not planning for anything. I allowed my head to just be there. I told anxiety I would see her after my moment. I was sure she would be there, she always was. An interesting thing happened. As I began to feel each moment, I began to string those moments together and they resembled a happy life….a happy person. I began to crave more moments, free of anxiety….full of the ability to take a deep, full breath of happiness and let it in. I began to seek those moments out as I had become addicted to the full breath in. Now, when I look beside me, anxiety is no longer there. She is no longer threatening me if I don’t have control. My strung together moments, have become a life without anxiety. For me, this began with just a bite.
5 Ways to Create a More Mindful Facebook Feed.
We see it time and time again……the FB article that talks about the top 5 Facebook offenders. Those who drive us nuts with their always positive posts, or the posters who only use FB to complain about their lives. We pick apart those Facebooker’s that we despise. We can’t stand when you post pictures of your dinner….or…..We know you aren’t THAT happy, quit faking it! Too political, too religious, TOO anything. It amazes me how much we are willing to place our unhappiness outside of ourselves. We are so used to giving do’s and don’ts to the Facebook poster that we haven’t spent any time on the reader! If we, as the reader, are able to be Mindful in what we read, how we read it, and why we are reading it, we can be clear about our intentions and thoughts/feelings before we judge the posts we come across. Giving do’s and don’ts to the posters, gives the reader a false sense of control. The idea is to stop trying to control what we have no control over.
Facebook serves many purposes. For some it’s how we keep in touch with those we love, updating with family pictures and adventures. For some it’s a source of news each day, carefully crafted to ensure we only see the news we are interested in. For others, it’s a source of negativity, and resentment.
Have you sat down and figured out what place Facebook has in your life? What is it feeding? What isn’t it feeding? It’s a simple social website that has weaved its way into our everyday lives. It has dictated our opinions of others and given us a window into other’s lives for us to either judge them or not. Every single time we log onto Facebook, we are making a choice. Am I going to judge others for how they are living, what they are posting and what kind of image they have crafted? Or am I going to choose to be present in my life? Somehow it gets into the fiber of our day. It reaps negativity, if we aren’t happy with ourselves, and cultivates resentments about our own life and what we are missing. This is rooted in insecurity. By giving it power, in the form of thought, anger, and judgment, we have now made it our problem. Chances are if we are spending time judging people’s lives via Facebook, we are most likely doing it in real life as well. We are robbing ourselves, of a mindful life.
In life, our attitude tends to match those whom we surround ourselves with. That is the case in Facebook as well! The average person spends 40 minutes per day checking their Facebook. If our Facebook feed continuously raises our blood pressure, or prompts a judgment from us….it’s time to be mindful about our Facebook feed.
Technology makes it too easy to connect, but it’s up to us to be mindful enough to filter the information with our best interests at heart. We must be mindful of what we let in each day, so that we have enough space and silence for us to hear our true selves. We must clear the pathway so that there is room for ideas, empathy, and love to come out. This begins with US! Let’s jump start this with a few suggestions for creating a Facebook feed that promotes mindfulness in our lives.
- Let’s make sure our Facebook feed is full of those who applaud our victories and grieve with us for our failures. You know what I mean. We all know the people who silently snicker when our daughter doesn’t make the volleyball team, or our husband doesn’t get that job he was hoping for. Why are we friends with them on Facebook?! If it is out of obligation, guilt, or an inability to say No……UNFRIEND them!!! We have one life. We have one family. We have one shot at this happiness thing! Do we want it? Yes?! Then let’s press unfriend, don’t wait. Let’s fill our feed with those holding us up, not waiting for us to fall.
- What about the Facebookers we keep in our lives just to watch the shit show? Come on, admit it……there are a few people we keep on our feed, simply because we can’t give up the window into their chaos. Seems harmless right? Think again. In this situation, we, are now the offender! Feeling anything but empathy for this kind of Facebook friend is not helping us in any way. This one requires a high level of self-awareness. We must be aware of our thoughts surrounding this Facebooker, in order to understand our reasons for keeping them in our feed. Does their misery make us feel better about our own situation? Are we helping their situation, or just being a voyeur? When we begin to judge others, we have abandoned cultivating empathy. Cultivating empathy is fundamental in a mindful life. When we are unable to have empathy for others, we are unable to have empathy for ourselves. Empathy for ourselves allows us to think freely. We don’t fight our thoughts, we welcome them. We don’t feel guilty for our thoughts, we simply observe them as if they don’t belong to us. We don’t judge ourselves for our thoughts, we lend empathy to ourselves instead. Why? Because life is hard, and we can’t expect perfection. Empathy for ourselves helps us to see others in a brighter light as well. If we are not able to cultivate empathy for this Facebooker, we should unfollow them. Peering into their shit show only highlights our inadequacies. Let’s fill our feed with those that talk to our positive side, not the side we’re working hard to change.
3. Birds of a feather….well you know the rest. Who do you look up to? Who are your mentors? Who drives us and inspires us? Do those people make up a large portion of your Facebook feed? If not, they should! I don’t know about you, but I crave inspiration. I need motivation, support and a looking glass into the future. If I’m going to get a healthy dose of this when I check my Facebook feed, than I better make sure I have a healthy dose in my feed. Follow their personal page, their business page, their blog and anything else they have listed on Facebook. Let’s make our Facebook like a mini networking session when we can. Regardless of our area of expertise, there are those that came before us. If we respect how they did it…..we should be following them! We all need little bursts of motivation for our day. Good information in = Good information out. Let’s fill our feed with motivational speakers, gurus, health experts, mentors, business leaders, or anyone doing their best to spread positivity. Let’s fill our feed with those who challenge us, motivate us and encourage us to be our best selves! Everyone needs a team, redefining what purpose Facebook has in our lives, can create the feeling of having our very own team.
4.News. This is a hard one for me, as I used to be a news junkie…..so I get it, I really do. Seems there is not a lot of good news out there each day, unless we’re looking for it. I don’t know about you, but all that bad news starts to really, really get to me. There’s a fine line between being socially responsible and being a news junkie. I have found, that I can still be in touch with what is going on around me, but not be bogged down emotionally because of too much information that I have zero control over. Plain and simple, if we listen to hate all day…..we can become hateful. We become fearful of “the others”. Solely listening to Fox News or MSNBC is just as detrimental to our psyche as solitary confinement. We become fearful and judgmental when all we read or see about “the others” is negative. Come on guys, these people are paid to get a rise out of us….and look at us, like sheep, just hopping on the negativity train, wondering why we feel anxiety, or depression. Let’s take control, and get off the train! Let’s do our best to find the news that emphasizes the helpers. Find the news that encourages and motivates us to help others. Find the news that doesn’t highlight our differences, but brings us together through our similarities. We don’t have to ignore reality, or choose the path of the uninformed. But we can, filter how much of it we see each day, how deep we let it in and be mindful of what we do with the information we receive. Let’s fill our feed with humanity. Let’s look for ways we can help, and not get hoodwinked by the big news outlets, striving to pull us apart.
5.Giving back on Facebook feels amazing! Who looks up to you? Who are you a mentor to? Reach out and extend your hand via Facebook. This can look many ways. It can look like an encouraging quote on their Facebook wall in the morning. It can look like an inbox message just saying we care in one way or another. Or, it can look like an offer to help them move forward in one way or another. Careful! This does not look like offering time we don’t have, or energy we can’t give up. This relationship should feed us both! Being a mentor is one of the most rewarding roles in life. It raises our self-awareness, motivates us to excel, and reminds us of how far we’ve come. Those are just the selfish benefits! It provides a light for those that come after us…it shows our children how we should treat others. Giving back benefits everyone. This doesn’t have to be in the form of a mentorship. Let’s fill our feed with volunteering pages, charities, and any other outlet that provides a way for us to be of service. I have found there is nothing more mindful than serving others.
Creating a Mindful Facebook feed is easier than we think. Let’s do this together. Think of it as setting boundaries for ourselves. What we spend our time filling our heads with is what creates our world. I know I need peace in my life. I know I need positivity in my life, and I know that this is just one step that can me reach that goal.