How many of us are real friends
To real friends, ’til the reel end
‘Til the wheels fall off, ’til the wheels don’t spin
To 3 A.M., callin’
How many real friends?
Just to ask you a question
Just to see how you was feelin’
Between the sister circles and unified sage burning, there’s a crisis occurring. The crisis of superficial friendship. The faux friendships we cultivate post-grad where we quickly attach on to whoever seems ‘normal’ in the vicinity. Whoever seems to have morals that align with our own. The weekly brunches, parties, and game nights with fellow Black and brown millennials who are racing towards socioeconomic classes our ancestors only dreamed of. The superficiality of our 20s in a new(ish) city, in a new(er) job space, in a world that’s not quite designed to respond to our needs.
We’ve had numerous conversations about toxic friends (How To Spot a Toxic Friend), family, and loved ones. The people who aren’t supportive, who leech, who give little of what they take. We know how to cut off, or at the very least, distance ourselves from those folks. But what happens when those folks are your only option? When the sister circle is filled with the women who don’t have the same definition of friendship as you? When the brunch crew involves mindlessly going from one drink to the next when you’d much rather be in bed with a book? What happens when the superficial friendship becomes the life line you need to survive?
I had this really good talk that confirmed I don’t need to show up for every single person with my friendship.
— The Original OG. (@arneespeaks) October 29, 2017
One of the biggest lessons learned in life is that everyone’s definition of friendship won’t be the same as yours. And that grounded in the fact that you don’t need to be everyone’s friend solely based on proximity can make your 20s a bit hard. Especially when you aren’t around the friends from home (or college) you became so deeply rooted to and grounded in. Sometimes the expectation of friendship becomes “I should be able to create that with everyone I come across because why not?” and that turns into us grasping for any ‘option’ we come across.
So we set up the sister circles. Plan the movie nights. Go to the brunches. But it still feels empty. It’s rare to find one, hell even two, people you can sit in silence with. Who will get to know you past what they see. Who will practice reciprocity. Who will love you in the ways that you need. Who will earn the title of ‘friend’.
Life is more associates than friends.
Every person you meet will not be a friend. And that is okay. Honestly, there’s something a bit concerning about someone who genuinely believes that their loyalty can stretch in such ways. You cannot expect every person that crosses your path to be ‘that person’. You cannot show up and stretch your heart for every single person you encounter. It just is not healthy or wise. Next thing you know, you’ve opened your house and home to folks who don’t even believe in contributing something to the space they were welcomed into.
We are so picky about our romantic relationships and rarely extend those expectations and demands to our platonic ones. I’d argue that those platonic relationships mean a bit more in your 20s. Your tribe, your home, your peace of mind may not be the person you sleep with. So if you aren’t cultivating an air of pickiness about who you surround yourself with, you’ll quickly fall down the rabbit hole of superficial bonds. Bonds that do not mean much.
So I challenge you to walk away. Remove yourself from the mix for a few weeks. See who you genuinely miss. Which personalities you crave when you’re alone. Think about who genuinely compliments your soul. I promise, you will be shown what you’ve known all along- there’s few who will tug at your soul in such a way. And that is okay. Be encouraged to get out of your comfort zone and reach out to people who have what you seek. Don’t fill the void with people just to say you ‘made a friend’. Because you didn’t. You found a placeholder who probably doesn’t care much about you (and tbh you probably don’t care about them). And is that really the friendship you want?
Be selective. Be choosy. Brunch away. But be mindful of those who you let into your circle because that circle is ultimately your heart. Be mindful of the superficial friendships that will show up when you least expect it.