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It’s OK To Outgrow Your Friendships

Losing friends isn't always bad.

What About Your Friends?

There are times when you meet someone and you just naturally vibe with that person, to the point that every time you're in that person's company you're comfortable. That's how it was with a former friend of mine who I'll call “Kay". Kay is a few years younger than me, but we both share a lot of the same experiences and interests, and everything just meshed. We met at work and immediately hit it off. We took our breaks together, arranged to have our desks near each other, ate lunch together and even hung out after work—we were tight.


As time went on, I ended up leaving the company and she stayed on. We attempted to meet up outside of work a few times; however, it just wasn't the same. I couldn't for the life of me understand why we drifted apart, but eventually I was able to understand she was my friend for that particular season and within that particular climate. The season was my time at the company—she became a person that I could vent to about issues at work and vice versa, and we understood each other within that particular climate.

Eventually, I had to come to terms with the fact that outside of the work climate, we were totally different people with totally different interests other than the ones we shared while on the job. I had to accept the fact that even though to this day we remain acquainted via social media and will hug and speak when we see each other, we are no longer friends. I don't know what's happening with her on a day to day basis and that's okay because our friendship served a particular purpose for a limited timed, and those memories will always be special.

Like everyone, I've now come to accept it as a part of life. Losing a friend is indeed not much different than breaking up with someone romantically. Anytime you bond with someone and that bond is broken, you're going to hurt. What these experiences have taught me is that some people are only put in your life for a season, and eventually that season will come to an end. It's as simple as that. Here are a few of my takeaways from friendships that have come and gone.

Understand the Climate of the Friendship

As human beings, we bond with people and form friendships in all sorts of places. Whether it's through work, school, the gym or any number of other social groups, unless you're entirely anti-social most people form friendships in the aforementioned atmospheres or “climates". What most people don't foresee; however, is the effect “climate change" can have on these relationships. This was my experience with Kay. Once I left the atmosphere of our relationship (work) the climate of our friendship changed, and unfortunately it didn't change for the better.

People Lose Their Compatibility

Throughout the changes I've been through with friends who have come and gone, I've come to realize that sometimes it's not the climate—it's the connection between the people that diminishes. This is exactly what happened between myself and a former friend of mine. We met when we were in middle school and bonded immediately. When high school came along we were still very tight, but somewhere between meeting new people and starting to date, the connection that once made us inseparable began to diminish.

She began to make friends with people whom I wouldn't normally associate with and began to participating in things that I wasn't cool with it—this put a wedge between us. Eventually, we just stopped talking all together. Years later, we attempted to reconnect as adults, but unfortunately the friendship couldn't be revived. It just wasn't the same between us. Like Kay, we remain connected via social media and we're cordial when we see each other, but other than her social media posts I really don't know who she is anymore. What I learned from that experience, however, is that compatibility is the fuel to any relationship. You can like someone but no longer be compatible. Though it can be a hard pill to swallow, it's just the way life goes. Our season was over.

People Grow Differently and I Respect That

This is something I struggle with to this day. While I've had people in my life who I've cared about, but was able to let them go their separate ways, I have one friend who I can't let go of. This person is more like a sister to me than just a friend. She is someone who I could never see myself simply moving on from. This is very tricky for me, because there is nothing wrong with this friend, she is a beautiful person inside and out—we are simply on different levels in life. This makes it difficult for us to spend time together. She is going through some very difficult things, and has been going through these situations for a while now. She has sought my advice, and I've offered it and even offered to help her out of her situation, but for some reason she never removes herself from her situation. This is a person I've been friends with as far as back as I can remember, and I can't ever see myself totally abandoning her, but I have kept my distance from her for several reasons.

One reason I remain distant is that fact that her situation is “toxic," and listening to her woes began to affect my life negatively. I was constantly worrying about her and trying to come up with ways to help her, but in all honesty she either didn't want my help or she wasn't ready for the changes that came with it. It hurts to keep my distance because I miss her, but also because I can see she is so much greater than her circumstances. As much as I try to build her up she still remains blind to her potential.

Not to sound cliché, but I had to learn to love her from a distance. When she's ready to rise up from everything that keeps her from flourishing I'll be right here for her, but for now I can't expose myself to her negative aura. I know this may seem to contradict everything I wrote previously, however, it is in my opinion that some bonds should never be broken, even if they are weakened at times. So while our bond is weakened currently, it isn't broken, and I have faith that our time apart is only temporary.

As I've grown older, I've learned to keep my circle small but strong.

I have a few good friends that I can count on and they can count on me as well. I've found that reciprocity is an essential element for friendships to thrive. Within my current friendships, we build each other up to be the best we can be. My new circle of friends are mainly composed of people who I believe aren't just here for a season, but are people I am confident I can weather any storm with, and I'm sure they feel the same. While I cherish all the connections I've made throughout my life, because I've generally been able to take away something valuable, I'm fine with the fact that some people just aren't my friends anymore, and I wish them the best.

What about you? What life lessons have you learned from friends who have come and gone?

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

This article is in partnership with Staples.

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