I remember watching Girls Trip and feeling like I was watching my own group of friends on-screen. Each friend (or character) within the group brought something different to the table, and each woman needed the other for different reasons based on their bond.
It seems the older I get, however, the more cognizant I am about who I call a friend, an associate, or even how I categorize certain friends. I realize that I'm likely categorized by some of my friends based on the type of friend I am to them as well. For example, sometimes you need the "let's get lit" friend, and other times you need the "let's get a prayer going" type of friend.
It's inevitable that there are some friends who may not be the same type of friend we need or want based on where we are in our lives – we grow, we change, we evolve. There's a familiar verse that says: "To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven" (Ecclesiastes 3:1), and the same applies to certain friendships.
Although it's not always comfortable, there comes a point in our lives when we have to decide if we're going to: renew, relax (take a break), re-categorize (or re-prioritize), or release (let go of) certain friendships. I used to struggle quite a bit with this reality, but I've learned to embrace it especially when the change is for the better. I've learned that although the friendship may change or end, my love for the person doesn't have to end.
Over the years, I've observed through my personal experiences that there are four main factors that impacted and changed some of my friendships, and they can impact yours as well.
Mindsets have changed.
Positive thinking and positive energy is so important, and they're also contagious. The more I surround myself around positive energy and people, the more I am empowered and inspired to keep going after my goals. Hence, I can admit that I have had to distance myself from certain people or completely end certain friendships because they were too negative, too spiritually draining, or because I realized we were going or growing in two totally different directions.
Although we can influence people to change, we can't force people to change. For a lot of people, change makes them uncomfortable, so they would rather stay where they are instead of grow and evolve. I understand also that my willingness to step out of my comfort zone makes other people uncomfortable.
Not to mention the fact that some friends are committed to who you used to be versus who you are becoming. I've affirmed, however, that just because they're committed to who I used to be doesn't mean they're committed to who I'm destined to be. Like the saying goes, "if they can't grow with you, then they can't go with you." This doesn't always mean that the friendship has to completely end. It may mean that it's time for you to re-categorize the friendship, distance yourself, or change your expectations for certain friends.
Priorities have changed.
Marriage, babies, careers, businesses, ministry, illnesses, major life changes…all of these things, and more, can directly impact a friendship. Most of my friends will tell you – I love my girls (the show Girlfriends is still, to this day, one of my favorite shows of all time), and I love a girls' night out. However, as a married, career-oriented, purpose-driven woman, the reality is that they are no longer my first priority (and vice versa for them).
I had a friend who was mad at me one year because I couldn't attend their wedding even though: 1) I found out about it only a few months prior to it occurring, 2) It was an extremely busy year that required a lot of travel and financial resources due to my career and side-hustle, as well as my BFF's wedding, for which I was the maid of honor, and 3) I still gave them a gift. Since then, our friendship has changed somewhat, but I refuse to feel bad for prioritizing my life over one day.
They say, "People make time for what they care about," but I also think there needs to be some degree of consideration for certain friends' lives, as well as situations that others may not be aware of.
I understand that I can't expect my friends to be at every single event or to always show up for me. Support looks different to different people, and it's shown in different ways, even beyond someone's physical presence.
Beyond that, friendships can change as a result of how the friendship is prioritized. I am not a perfect friend by far, but I am that friend who goes hard for my friends. However, I am no longer that friend who consistently makes someone else a priority when they've made it clear that the friendship isn't as much a priority for them, and you don't have to be that friend either.
I am no longer committed to bending over backwards for people who aren't even willing to bend a knee for me.
Last year, at the DreamHer conference in Atlanta, Dr. Nicole Garner Scott posed a great question when she asked: "Are the people you're committed to just as committed to you?" Your answer to this question will help you determine if it's time to re-prioritize a friendship, or anything for that matter.
Loyalties have changed.
"Loyalty is about the people who stay true to you behind your back."
What is a friendship if there is no loyalty, and especially if they can't be trusted? Some people can be loyal to you one day but stab you in the back the next day. Unfortunately, this has happened to me on more than one occasion (including the ultimate betrayal when I was in college). Although it hurt then, it's clear to me now that they were never really my friend and I no longer needed that friendship. As Beyonce likes to say, "Thank God I found the good in goodbye."
Interests have changed.
Listen, I loved college. I loved a lot of the things I did when I was in college, but now, I'm 15 years removed from that time in my life. Some of the interests I had back then are no longer appealing to me, let alone relevant to my current life. Simply put, just because they're connected to your past doesn't mean they're tied to your future.
Drake said, "No new friends," but as with almost anything in life, sometimes it's okay to purge in order to make room for something (or someone) better. Over the years, I have been blessed to maintain a lot of my life-long friendships, but I've also been blessed to develop new friendships even via social media. No matter how old or new the friendship may be and regardless of the "ship" that you're on (friendship, relationship, "situation-ship," etc.), just make sure it's headed in the right direction.
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