For as long as you can remember, you have always been the shoulder to cry on for your friends, one call away at all times.
Your responsibilities as the strong friend are held to a higher degree than casual associates. You are there to provide style tips for blind dates. There to listen to your girlfriend complain about not getting the promotion she deserves. You are the listening ear when your bestie breaks up with her boyfriend for the third time this month, and also there when she invites you to his house a week later for game night. For every life scenario, it has always been your responsibility to be the rock and stay solid through the good, bad, and sometimes ugly.
You are there, reliable, trustworthy, loyal and also EXHAUSTED.
In recent years, there has been a rise in the awareness of mental health issues and how common they are amongst millennials. With many celebrities coming forward with their own personal battles or unfortunate suicides and deaths, it has made the cliché "check on your strong friend" quote popular. But why does it take something happening to a celebrity for your friends to realize that there may be someone battling anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, drug and alcohol addictions in their inner circle?
Queen, you have always had the exterior reputation of having it all together.
Your friends commend you on getting over obstacles in life and being able to show no weakness. The truth is, you don't look like what you are going through and behind those smiles between mimosas at brunch, or random selfies before work, is pain and vulnerability that you are afraid to show. Afraid that if suddenly you do not answer those calls/texts or take a break for yourself and some self-care, that your friends will assume you are being moody or disloyal. Afraid that if one day you vent about your life or break down, that you will be judged because it is not like you to show weak emotions.
With the weight of your friends' worlds on your shoulders, there's no option but to be strong so you continue to do so..until now.
From one strong friend to another, it's okay to simply be selfish with yourself and realize that boundaries can be set with friends. It is okay for you to seek your own happiness and take care of yourself before you take care of others. I had to learn that when you put others first, you have taught them that you come second. Realize that friendships cannot be one-sided and while you are building up this façade of being "strong," you may be blocking the opportunity for others to be there for you when needed.
Know that it is okay to cancel plans, leave calls/texts unanswered, or simply want some time alone. It is okay to not be okay and to exercise the art of saying "no." Don't feel bad for making life choices and decisions that bring you peace.
Even when it upsets other people, you are not responsible for their happiness, you are responsible for yours.
Dear Queen is a series dedicated to letters from women written for themselves and other women. Have a "Dear Queen" letter? We want to read it! E-mail your letters to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject: Dear Queen.
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