I have always been the "strong friend". I am not sure how or when I inherently earned this title, but somehow, I did. And If I am being completely honest, I'm tired of being the "strong one", let alone the strong everything. Not only am I the strong friend, but I am also the strong sibling, cousin, co-worker, and I was once the strong girlfriend too. It sounds like a bitter rant, I know, but I promise it's not. I think it is conversation-worthy to explore the dynamics of friendships and delve deeper into the topic of being the strong friend. They say friendships are harder to maintain as you enter your thirties and forties anyways.
Friendships have been tried, tested, and questioned during this pandemic. I find myself annoyed with evaluating and reevaluating the friendships I have in this chapter of my life. I want to understand why strong friends are ignored and why it's hard for us strong ones to speak up. I have to catch myself when analyzing these types of things because the smallest of issues can trigger my anxiety. But I am also willing to build my current connections and manifest new reciprocal connections too. As an empath and a true Sagittarian, I am all about human connection.
Every point in this list is worth incorporating into your self-care routine (if you don't practice any of the above, I suggest you start). And at least a few points on this list is worth some self-exploration. But let's pause and take note of the sixth bullet point.
Explore the reasons that people may see you as "the strong one".
I posed this question to a friend and we dove into a deeper conversation surrounding being "the strong one" and the aspects about you that make the people in your life gravitate towards you because of it. After some self-reflection, here are some of the traits I identify with that make me "the strong one":
Energy says more about you than words do. I am a people person, but I am also reserved by nature. Coupled with my energy type, this might explain how I am received by others. What I've learned is that I have Type 2 Energy and I am the Comprehender. I move through life making connections–both with people and with plans. I am naturally quieter; I ask a lot of questions and gather details. I sometimes feel people don't see me or hear me because of it. I also think in some ways I limit myself from letting all of me shine. I know I'm unique, but I'm learning to be limitless. It begs the question—what makes a friend receive your energy differently compared to another friend?
People Are Comfortable With YouGiphy
I have been told my presence is comforting. I am the confidant in many of my friend groups. I am trustworthy, transparent, non-judgmental, solution-oriented, and I can see both sides of a situation. With that said, friends feel safe to be vulnerable with me. I don't mind being the friend to catch you when you fall. I am an empath. The level of compassion I have allows me to feel everything more deeply than most people would.
You Always Say ‘Yes”Giphy
When do you ever say "no" to someone? Do we ever say "no" to our family and friends? If you're like me, I tend to always say "yes" in fear of disappointing someone. Again, ignoring my priorities, needs, and wants. At the end of the day, you're busy filling everyone else's cup but your own. Then, you're left wondering who fills your cup and that is not OK. But let me just say, there is power when you learn to say "no" more often.
You Always Show UpGiphy
"I got you girl," is my typical response. If you're like me, you're the dependable friend who genuinely cares for her tribe. You're not the mother hen, but you are the responsible one. You are true to your words. You make the time and go the extra mile. Good, bad, ugly, or indifferent, you always show up. For me, I show up simply because I am asked to. There doesn't have to be a particular reason. That is just the type of friend I am. I choose to be there. I choose to be supportive.
You Make Life Look EffortlessGiphy
You don't complain about anything. Literally. Even on the hardest of days, you get things done. You're organized, accountable to self, and tackle your day like a boss. In the words of Olivia Pope, "Consider it handled." You handle your ish because that's who you are by nature. You're independent. You realize no one is going to do anything for you. But just because "you got it" doesn't mean you don't need help. We all have our good and bad days. You deserve to be checked on and supported too.
Now that you know some of the traits of a strong friend, what are you going to do about it? Nothing because you're lit the way you are. You. Are. That. Bish. It's evident people like you, so you don't have to change who you are. Instead, learn to set boundaries with others and limit their access to you when needed. Express your feelings to others as uncomfortable as it might be. People don't know what you don't communicate.
Once boundaries are crossed or energy has shifted, you must learn to let go. And I'm the type where if you don't give a damn, I don't give a fuck. Friendships are harder to lose, and the loss is even harder to accept. Trust me, I have been through one or two silent friend breakups during this pandemic.
But I am here to tell you the title of the strong friend gets better. Wear that title with pride and know the friendships you have won't always be one-sided. The thing is, these same friends will show up in a later chapter in your life. They usually do. I can attest to this because it's not that these same friends didn't see your worth, they weren't ready to embrace you.
For now, go where your energy is celebrated, reciprocated, and wanted.
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