“I really just want to be able to wear a sports bra and shorts around my house and in my yard,” I said to my friend while we were on a road trip.
“So do it!” she immediately replied, “who cares what anyone else thinks? You wear what you want.”
“Oh, no, this isn’t a body confidence thing, it’s a weight goal thing,” I explained.
She paused and said, “Oh! Hang on, let me get into that mode. I just needed to know what direction we were going…Ok, YES! You can totally do that, just keep on the same track you are on and it won’t be very long. That seems like a pretty realistic goal…”
The conversation went on from there, but her immediate support and the way she changed the conversation stuck with me.
These are the friends we need in our corner.
Clearly, she would back my play, support me in whichever direction I was taking that comment. Had I been having a moment of self-doubt, she was there to support me and tell me why I was wrong. Since I was having a goal setting moment, she remained there to help push and motivate me to keep going, to work hard and become a better version of myself.
We do not need friends who fake it. In our world of social media and round the clock affirmation, we do not need more people who pour on the “you’re wonderful” when in fact you might not be. That is not really friendship.
Friendship is accountability. Friendship is honesty. Friendship sometimes stings.
I have another friend who only surrounds herself with people who “support” everything she does, even when that behavior is destructive. People who point out the destructive behavior are cut out under the guise of “I don’t need that negativity around me.”
In actuality we do. We need people who are willing to tell us we are wrong. We need people who love us, support us, have our best interests in mind, and because of that are not afraid to tell us when we are wrong. More importantly, we must be willing to accept the critique in the spirit it was provided.
We also must be brave enough to speak openly to them, though the thought is scary. We live in a world where people are offended easily and cut out of each others lives even more easily. We have taken the act of “un-friending” someone out of the world of Facebook and moved it into real life.
Yes. We absolutely should cut out toxic people. There are just some people who are bad for our mental health and we should keep our distance, that is absolutely true.
The friend who has the courage to tell you that you are on a wrong path, and they cannot support it is not necessarily that toxic person though.
Family and friends are there to support us, to encourage us, and to live life with us. They are not obligated to stand by and watch us destroy ourselves.
We need both sides of friendship, the one that says, “hold on, let me see how I can support you now,” and the one that says, “I cannot support what you are doing.”
We cannot embrace the first while rejecting the second. That is not true relationship, that is not honest, and that is not how we grow.