I can totally understand if, right when you saw this title, you wondered if this was meant to patronize you in some way. After all, on the surface, when it comes to whether or not you actually choose your own friends, it would seem like the answer would be "duh", right? Yeah, I'm not so sure about that. The more self-work that I do, the more coaching clients that I have, the more folks who email me about their relationships (or lack thereof) and even the more I just sit back and observe the world, I don't think we choose wisely when it comes to our friendships as much as we actually should be.
Just think about the word "choose". It means "to select from a number of possibilities". Choose also means "to pick by preference" and "to prefer or decide". Now take a moment to think about your friends and how the friendship initially came to be to begin with. Did you prefer them or did things just sorta happen? Why is it relevant? Well typically, whenever we decide to make a choice, we've put in some thought, we've processed why we want what we do and we've weighed out, at least on a surface-level, the pros and cons. That way, we have a good idea of what we're getting ourselves into—and why.
Now do you see why choosing your friends is paramount as it relates to the overall scope of your life? If you do, but you're not quite sure that you can answer, whether or not you chose your tribe or not, I'm hoping that the following six questions can offer up some real and lasting clarity.
Did You CHOOSE Your Tribe or Did You Just Go with the Flow?
In my opinion, one of the most important jobs that a parent has, as it relates to raising responsible and emotionally intelligent children, it's giving them the ability to make wise choices. In order to accomplish this, it requires being the type of mom or dad who isn't always trying to control any and everything all of the time—this includes when it comes to who your children's friends are. While I do personally think that up until, I'd say junior year in high school, parents should have a highly influential role in who their kids spend a significant amount of time with, many moms and dads make the grave mistake of putting their children together with the kids of their own friends. You know what I mean—if all of the adults are hanging out in one room, the children are sent off to go and play with each other in another. When this arrangement happens often enough, whether the parents realize it or not, the kids are "forced" to become friends, mostly by proxy, without really stopping to think if they would choose the people that they are spending so much time around.
I am speaking from very personal experience too. One of the worst people to ever come into my life, someone who was a horrible influence until well into my early college years, is a person who my parents put me around, simply because they hung out with her parents. When I tell you that this girl did more damage to my self-esteem and perception of what I should expect in my friendships…words cannot even begin to express.
And the reality is, I know a lot of people who have a similar story about their own childhood friendships. Again, they didn't really stop to choose who their friends were. It was more like they went with the flow of whoever came over to their house with their parents' friends and/or was in their Sabbath or Sunday school class at church and/or who sat next to them the most at school. And because they merely "went with the flow" when it came to their close interactions with others, they didn't really develop the skills that were needed to figure out who best complemented them, who had good intentions for them, and who had the character and values that they wanted and needed to be around.
I know all of this is kind of deep but if, like me, you have found yourself disappointed by some of your past friendships, it can never hurt to ask yourself if you ever developed the skill of actually choosing your friends. Or, have you always just kind of gone with the flow of your environment? The answer to this question alone can be quite revelatory, if you allow it to be.
What Do You Actually PREFER About the People You Call “Friend”?
I believe I've shared before that, a few years ago, I read an article that featured the video interview of a couple that had been married for over 60 years. When the journalist asked the wife for the key to her relationship, she looked at the woman like she was crazy and then said, "I have sex with him. I don't do that with the rest of my friends." Indeed. Well, when it comes to friendships, something that I wish folks would do more often is process what makes them prefer their friends over everyone else on this planet.
To prefer is "to set or hold before or above other persons or things in estimation; like better; choose rather than". There are a lot of awesome people out here. I run into folks who deserve that adjective fairly often. But my friends are those who I literally esteem highly, like better and choose to be a part of the intimate areas of my life.
If you wonder if you're choosing your friends, ponder what you prefer about them over the other individuals who revolve in and out of your world. It can reveal quite a bit.
How Many of Your Friendships Are About Shared Values, Not Just Common Interests?
It's very easy to find yourself spending time with other people, simply because you like the same things. You both enjoy chick flicks, so you hit the movie theatre together fairly often. You both like the same kind of music, so you've been to concerts together before. You enjoy the same cuisine, so you have lunch together from time to time. But just because someone enjoys doing some of the things you do, that doesn't automatically mean they are—or even should be—your friend. A friend should require a much higher standard than that.
Another way to discern whether or not you are actually choosing your friends is to think about if you both have similar value systems. I don't mean if you both share the same faith or you both desire the same type of future (that value system is more applicable to marriage). What I'm referring to here is if you both want the same things out of your friendships (check out "What A Supportive Friend Actually Does (It's Not Quite What You Think)" and "10 Things You Should Absolutely Expect From Your Friendships"). Do you both look for the same type of qualities in a friend and both define "friend" in a similar fashion?
One of the reasons why a lot of people constantly find themselves feeling disappointed in their friendships is because, while a "friend" may be fun, funny and familiar to them, they still aren't the most consistent, loyal or giving. But since they like their friend's personality so much, they don't really stop to process that a person's character is mad relevant too.
So yeah, choosing your friends should also consist of making sure that the type of friend you want is also the type of friend that they actually want to be—that it's mutually understood that you both will truly value one another for the long haul.
Do You Actually Take Inventory on Your Relationships?
Something else that comes with choosing your friendships is deciding when they are no longer serving you. One way to figure that out is by taking annual inventory on them. I already know that some of y'all are going to find this to be semi-extreme, but life has taught me that more than family or even romantic relationships, oftentimes the most impactful relational dynamics that we have is with our friends. Unless we live with a relative or we're married, we typically talk to them the most often. We factor in their perspectives quite heavily. And, they sometimes know things about us that absolutely no one else does. So, why wouldn't we need to make sure that our friends are a healthy addition to our life?
A couple of years ago, something that I did was process who I was initiating communication with more than they were doing the same. There were about five people who, when I stopped reaching out, I never heard from them. Matter of fact, there's one person, in particular, who I like a lot. But I'm always doing the work that's needed in order to keep us connected. The last time I saw her, I said, "You know I'm always calling you, right? You've got my number. The next time we chat, it'll be because you rang me." Yeah, that was almost a year ago. When I run into her again, she'll still be cool as hell in my eyes, but we're not friends. Friends mutually engage. Taking some personal inventory brought me to this revelation.
I think one of the reasons why people struggle so much with evaluating (and reevaluating) their friendships is because they act like folks either fall into the "friend" or "enemy" category when that doesn't have to be the case. Someone can be dope and still not deserve the time, effort and energy that your actual friends do. Figuring out what you need and if the people in your life are supplying it can help you to get to this point and place of choosing who goes where.
Is “All These Years”, All You’ve Got?
Did any of you catch when Yvonne Orji interviewed Molly Carter? It was actually pretty brilliant (you can watch it here). Anyway, while I watched it and laughed (Molly really is a trip, y'all), I thought about the fact that Issa and Molly met in school and have pretty much been hanging onto their friendship because of it. That's very similar to the "pre-Issa and Molly friendship", Joan and Toni fromGirlfriends; they were childhood friends. But man, did Toni suck at not being self-absorbed 85.9 percent of the time and boy, was Joan neurotic about the same amount. More times than not, Joan was doing all of the giving and then overthinking and resenting the fact, after the fact. But because they had so many childhood and adolescent tales in common, they kept trying to make work…what wasn't working.
Reminiscing is not a synonym for loyalty. Or healthy. Back when a very close friend of mine ghosted me after years of being in one another's lives, I recognized that a pattern I had created for myself in the dynamic was accepting that, while she had some really good qualities, I didn't really keep her in my life because of how awesome that I thought she was. It was more because I thought that a part of what comes with being a good friend is sticking around, simply because of all of the time, memories and secrets we had shared. As I continued to evolve as a person, though, I never really pondered that "all these years" isn't a good enough reason to remain in our particular dynamic.
I think the universe knew that so long as she remained, I'd stay stuck in "all those years" and so it allowed her to leave so that I could gain a better grasp of what I deserved/deserved in my friendships. Issa, Molly, Joan, Toni, that former friend and myself can all vouch for the fact that knowing someone for a really long time isn't really a good enough reason to keep them in your life. If they aren't benefiting the individual you are in the present and you aren't doing the same for them as well, sometimes it's best to lovingly and peacefully choose to move on. Without each other.
If You Got a Do-Over, Would You CHOOSE the Same Folks Again?
You know what they say, hindsight is sho 'nuf 20/20. So, when it comes to the friends who are currently in your life, be totally honest with yourself—when you think about the person you are now, the relational needs that you currently have and even the kind of influences you desire in order to move forward, do your friends complement those needs or not? Shoot, I'll even give you one better. Knowing what you know now, if you could go back in time to when you met your friends, all the while factoring in the realization that you probably were not as discerning as you should've been, would you have intentionally selected them?
Something that I find to be super revelatory about my own world is, when I got to the point and place of choosing the friends that I now have, there have been no issues, problems or drama. Aside from the fact that I am in a healthier space (which plays a very relevant role), I know the difference between folks who are cool to hang out with sometimes vs. folks who actually deserve the title of "friend" in my life.
It really is a trip. Just like you can choose who to follow in your social media feeds, you can choose who you want to affect your life in real and profound ways. Hmph. Not only can you choose them, you should choose them.
There's no time like the present to break out one of your journals and think about what you need/want in your friendships and if you have chosen people who are fitting that bill. Life is a sum of the choices we make, y'all. When it comes to some of the most important relationships that you will ever have in your life—your friendships—please choose wisely.
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
With two Eclipses happening this month, this is one of the powerhouse months of 2023 and one that will be unforgettable for many. The month begins in Libra Season, and with Mercury also entering Libra on October 4th. When Mercury is in Libra, the focus is on keeping the peace, creating harmony, and finding the beauty in life. Relationships, finances, pleasure, and creation are all the focus during Libra Season, and this month overall will be creating a lot of positive change in these areas of life.
What October 2023 Has In Store For Your Zodiac Sign
On October 8th, Venus moves into earth sign Virgo, and love takes on a more serious and grounded tone here. Venus in Virgo has high standards and wants the best of the best. There is a possibility of becoming overly critical in love or relationships with this energy, however overall, Venus in Virgo will be focused on letting go of unhealthy behaviors in love and creating more positive ways of relating, giving, and receiving in relationships. A few days later, Pluto goes direct in Capricorn after going retrograde in Aquarius back in May, and fewer power struggles and obstacles are more likely.
With Pluto direct in Capricorn, it is easier to reach your goals, build success, and see your own self-empowerment in it all.
On October 12th, Mars enters Scorpio, and Mars loves being in this water sign as it’s the ruler of Scorpio. Mars in Scorpio is passionate and direct and heats things up when it comes to your relationships. Mars will be in Scorpio until November 24th, and a spark is definitely being lit. A few days later, we have a New Moon Solar Eclipse in Libra.
This Solar Eclipse is creating a fresh start in love, but may also be bringing things to the forefront that are uncomfortable to see. A Solar Eclipse in Libra is relationship-oriented, and this is where you will be seeing the most impact now.
Before the month ends, Mercury enters Scorpio on October 22nd, Scorpio Season begins on the 23rd, and there is a Full Moon Lunar Eclipse in Taurus on October 28th. The end of October is when a lot of big moves are being made, and transformations are occurring, and it’s about letting go of baggage before moving forward again. The Lunar Eclipse in Taurus is another eclipse that has an impact on relationships, as both Libra and Taurus are ruled by Venus, the planet of love.
Through what is changing and transforming in some of your close relationships, this energy suggests there is greater love on the other side of it. Find gratitude in where you are, and stand in hope and self-belief for where you want to be.
Your October 2023 Monthly Horoscopes
ARIESAriesKyra Jay for xoNecole
Your strength is needed this month, Aries. During October, the Sun is in Libra, meaning the Sun is in your 7th house. The 7th house is the house of love and relationships, but it’s also the house of open enemies and opposition. This month, you will be finding your balance between the opening you are seeing in your life right now and what still needs to be built.
On October 14th, there is a New Moon Solar Eclipse in this area of your chart, the 7th house, and this is an impactful time for you emotionally. The intentions you have been setting in your love life and financially are creating a new scene for you. This is a good month to do more of the things that make you happy, to get creative, and to notice the beauty in your life. Before the month ends, your ruling planet, Mars, moves into your 8th house, and things get deep and even more emotional for you moving into November.
TAURUSTaurusKyra Jay for xoNecole
October is a month of reflection for you, Taurus. There is a lot happening this month and a lot happening for you personally, yet you are taking the time to tend to your inner world and recreate your safe spaces. With Venus in a fellow earth sign and in your 5th house of romance for most of this month, you will be sure to have plenty of love in your life to help you through some of the downtime you are getting in October.
Mars moves into your house of love on October 12th, and this is heating things up for you in your relationships and sex life. Fuel your passions and notice what is lighting you up inside right now. Before the month ends, on October 28th, there is a Full Moon Lunar Eclipse in your sign, and you are going through some major life changes. You are closing one chapter of your life of self-discovery and moving forward with a new view of yourself and the world around you.
GEMINIGeminiKyra Jay for xoNecole
This month is all about letting go, Gemini. You are moving through a time of releasing what has been filling your world with more chaos and confusion than clarity and are paving a new path for yourself. Your ruling planet, Mercury, is in your house of happiness for most of this month, and you are really thinking of the things that your heart wants and expressing yourself through this space of openness as well. Communication channels are exciting for you this month.
On October 14th, the New Moon Eclipse will be highlighting all of the energy of love you have been feeling this month and will be helping you hone in on your creative passions and hobbies as well. This month is surprising you on how well things turn out when you let go of what isn’t working. The second eclipse of the month is on the 28th, and this one for you is about laying the past to rest once and for all and giving yourself time to heal and process.
CANCERCancerKyra Jay for xoNecole
October is an activating month for you, Cancer. There are some eye-opening moments happening, and a lot of things are coming to a head. The energy of the month is about letting things find their place and allowing yourself to be okay in the process. Venus is in your 3rd house of communication for most of this month, and you will be able to communicate more freely how you are feeling and what you need in your relationships right now.
With the Sun in Libra and in your 4th house for most of October, home is really where the heart is right now. Spending time in comfortable environments where you feel the most at ease is nourishing. Before the month ends, there is a Full Moon Lunar Eclipse in your 11th house of community, and things are coming full circle for you. Lean on your support systems and community for an extra hand, and know that you deserve to take up space.
LEOLeoKyra Jay for xoNecole
This is a month of things moving forward for you, Leo. Patience is still needed, as things may not be moving as quickly as expected, however, they are moving nonetheless, and you are leaving the space of stagnation you have been feeling the past couple of months. Openings are coming into your life, and with Venus now in your 2nd house, you are able to capitalize on what you have been investing in and claim your abundance.
The Solar Eclipse happening mid-month will be awakening something within you when it comes to expressing yourself. You are breaking free from fears, limitations, and self-judgments and seeing yourself as someone who deserves to be heard. The Sun is also in this area of your chart until the end of the month, and you have all the support from the universe right now to speak up and speak your truths.
VIRGOVirgoKyra Jay for xoNecole
October is a month of blessings for you, Virgo. This year has been a year of a lot of ups and downs for you, and in the second half of this year, you really get to settle into more stability and positive fruition. You are being guided to use your instincts wisely this month, however, so as to keep blessings rolling. Your ruling planet, Mercury, will be in your 2nd house of income for most of the month, as well as the Sun, and financially, this is a really good month for you.
On October 8th, Venus moves into your sign, and you are receiving and feeling the love right now. Venus will be in your sign until November 8th, and over the next month, this is a good time for your relationships and business, receiving positive feedback, and putting yourself out there. On October 28th, there is a Full Moon Lunar Eclipse happening in your 9th house of adventure, and you could be seeing some travel or education plans coming to fruition now. You are really ready to enjoy how far you have come this month.
LIBRALibraKyra Jay for xoNecole
This month is all about creating your dreams, Libra. This is an exciting month for you and one where you are healing your inner child, gaining a new perspective, and manifesting your life. Libra Season is fully underway, and this is an impactful Libra Season for you, as there is a New Moon Solar Eclipse happening in your sign on the 14th. This Solar Eclipse is your time to shine, to bring your dreams to the forefront, and to let go of the past that doesn’t resonate with you anymore. It’s all about the vision this month; focus on the best one for yourself.
With the Sun and Mercury in your 1st house of self for most of the month and Venus in your 12th house of closures, you are finding your balance between the new and the old. You know there is a lot to release emotionally in your life still, but you are also giving yourself the space and freedom to soak in the good that has already arrived and making you happy right now. On October 23rd, Libra Season ends, and you are ready to focus more on your plans for the future.
SCORPIOScorpioKyra Jay for xoNecole
October is a month of rebirth for you, Scorpio. This is one of the most powerful months for you and one where you are starting fresh in many ways. Mercury is in your house of endings for most of the month, and your mind is focused on your spirituality, finding solutions, and letting go of perspectives and habits that don’t serve you or your health. Through the transformations that are occurring right now, new life is coming to fruition.
Mars and Mercury both enter your sign before Scorpio Season begins on the 23rd, and by the end of October, the energy moves from release to receive. You have more energy at your disposal when Mars is in your sign, and you are moving through a time of passion, action, and making things happen for yourself. This Scorpio Season for you is one where you are creating a new life for yourself and following the dreams you left to the wayside.
SAGITTARIUSSagittariusKyra Jay for xoNecole
Sagittarius, October is all about the heart and about showing up. This month for you is a time of support, friendship, and community, and a time where you are really discovering who your people are. You are awakening to what your inner child needs to heal and are seeking forgiveness this month. This is a time for you to move toward a new path in your life, one that feels more fulfilling for you and your well-being.
Venus is in Virgo and in your 10th house of career this month, and you are seeing some positive changes within your professional world. You are being received especially favorably right now, and this is a good month to ask for a promotion, network, or redefine your career goals. On October 14th, there is a New Moon Solar Eclipse happening in your 11th house, and your hopes and dreams are coming true for you. The clarity you gain this month is life-changing.
CAPRICORNCapricornKyra Jay for xoNecole
This month is all about patience, finding your peace, and exploring the world, Capricorn. You are focusing a lot on your belief systems, your intentions, and what goals you have set for yourself and your life. Venus is in your 9th house of adventure for most of the month, and you are really thinking about the big picture right now. You are doing more things differently this time of the year, thinking outside of the box and allowing your intentions to come to fruition.
On October 10th, Pluto goes direct in your sign. Pluto retrograde entered your sign in June, and you finally get to settle into the transformations that have been occurring since then. You’ve had a lot of moments of self-clarity and change, but now you are ready to live in this space and experience fewer changes to your environment. On October 28th, there is a Full Moon Eclipse happening, and this Lunar Eclipse is a time of love coming full circle for you. Relationships are developing at the end of October, and you are letting go of the past in love.
AQUARIUSAquariusKyra Jay for xoNecole
October is all about allowing life to unfold effortlessly, Aquarius. The path of least resistance is the most rewarding one, and this month, you are tapping into your inner faith. You have truly been trusting the process, and with the Sun in your 9th house for most of the month, the divine guidance is there for you right now. This month is about trusting that things are coming together for you and enjoying your life how you can right now.
On October 14th, there is a New Moon Solar Eclipse happening, and this eclipse is helping you build new foundations in your life. You have goals you want to set, places you want to see, and people you want to meet, and this eclipse is highlighting all of that for you. The second eclipse of the month is happening on the 28th, and this Lunar Eclipse is about letting things settle in, finding your ground, and nourishing your inner world. You are going within a lot this month, and through the new insight you have found, you are ready to make some concrete decisions that have been needed.
PISCESPiscesKyra Jay for xoNecole
October is a time of compassion, nurture, and love, Pisces. You are putting the love into your life and feeling this energy come back to you as well. Venus is in Virgo, your opposite sign, for most of the month, and this is good energy when it comes to your relationships and your love life. Your focus is on the people in your life and where you want things to grow in love, and you are putting in the effort to make your dreams come true for you here.
With the Sun also in your 8th house of commitments for most of the month, another love area of your chart, you can expect this to be a more emotional month for you. You are getting vulnerable, expressing where you stand, and creating a new slate for yourself in love. On October 28th, there is a Full Moon Eclipse happening in your 3rd house of communication, and the messages and insights you have been looking for are coming in.
The end of the month is a busier time for you, and you will be suddenly seeing everything you want to do and plan right now.
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Featured image by Kyra Jay for xoNecole