Throughout my friendships in life, I was always deemed as a strong friend--the friend that holds everybody down. I'm the friend you call when things are about to pop off, to party, to vent, and so on. At one point in my life, it was one of my favorite titles because I felt superior. I felt honored that people came to me as their "person".
I was the sparkly, gold trophy that everyone admired. I could handle anything. I felt like superwoman. I was untouchable.
As the years passed, being a strong friend started to tear me down slowly from the inside out. I wasn't the person I was before. I realized that people were so used to seeing me in the light of strength that I was completely alone during my lows. I felt like I had to go out of my way to remind people that I am a person, too. Despite being the strong friend, I struggle, I cry, and I worry.
It was no longer a compliment to hear, "I will get through it like I did everything else." Nah, fuck that. I'm hurting. I want compassion and support like everyone else. This transition was an eye-opener for me because at 26, I feel in some ways I was overextending myself to others because I yearned for that love and loyalty that I was giving so freely.
With this newfound information, I had to step back and analyze the relationships in my life. I found myself feeling some type of way towards my loved ones, but could I?
After all these years, I didn't require my friends and family to pour into me as I did with them. I didn't set any boundaries or expectations, so it was up to me to figure out some balance.
Here are some tips I've come up with so far:
Have A Conversation With Your Loved Ones.
I know you're probably telling yourself that you don't want to make a big deal, but it is. As you're growing, it's important to assess who you want around you. Some people will fall off naturally, but you are in control of your surroundings.
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As a strong friend, boundaries don't exist to us because we want to help any and everybody. Well, I hate to break it to you, but that's not possible. You have to be present for yourself first and that requires limits. The people who are offended and don't support this are not for you, point-blank.
Don't Feel Bad For Putting Yourself First.
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Saying no to others makes us cringe. Shoot, I still have internal fights with myself, but it's necessary. I recognize that at the beginning and the end of the day, I have myself so therefore I must love on me at all times.
Go To Therapy.
This will help with resentment. For a long time, I was upset, and I wanted to shut everyone out. In truth, not everyone is going to love like you do and be present as you are. AND THAT'S OKAY. This is what makes you so special because you have so much love to give that it's overflowing. Therapy will help you create a balance. It's also a great space for us to release. It's a space where we don't have to be strong, we can heal and be free.
Take Your Time.
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You will fall short. You will feel guilty for not being as present as you once were. Or there will be times where you overdid it and now you feel crappy. It's OK. As a strong friend, you are a lover and you want to be there for everyone. Just remember to be there for yourself, too.
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