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Gossip Divisions

Gossip. A word we hear and–sometimes–instantly dislike. Sometimes, we want to have others “gossip” about us–all good things, of course. But “gossip” doesn’t at all equate with good. Dictionary.com defines gossip as “idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others.” Not a positive definition.

When we gossip about others, we tend to talk about information they never wanted public. Or we’re spreading an untrue rumor. Along with the gossip, then, we give our own opinions. Opinions that can be unfair and untrue because they’re not founded on facts and true knowledge of a person. In gossip, we judge and label others.

We can all start gossip. It’s easy. Have a problem with a friend? Maybe we’ll post on Facebook or Twitter something they don’t want shared with the world. Or we’ll call them a name that doesn’t at all pertain to them. Or we’ll just rant and let other people take it from there. Gossip is easily started and difficult to stop. And if something’s put on the internet, it’s out there for the whole world to see: No takebacks.

We have to remember that gossip hurts people. Sooner or later, whoever it is the gossip or post is about will hear about it. And, chances are, they’ll hear everyone’s opinions, too. And that hurts, even if it’s just a rumor. But especially if it’s something they’d told someone in confidence. Because now the whole school/group/world knows.

We don’t have to spread gossip. It can stop with us. Maybe we can’t entirely stop it, but we can keep it from spreading to that one person we could tell. Sure, maybe they’ll hear from someone else. But we won’t have spread it. Better yet, if it’s gossip about someone we know, we can talk to them about it. We can warn them of what’s going on, so they can (maybe) prepare themselves for what’s to come. And we can stand beside them as a friend.

The root of the problem, though, is that gossip starts somewhere. And lots of times, it starts from an argument or some animosity between two people. It can even start from the carelessness of a friend, though the friend doesn’t intend for it to happen. Don’t let it start with you.

But it can be hard sometimes. If you’re angry with a friend, you want to rant about it. You want to tell someone. Well, write it down. Tell yourself. Don’t let anger at a friend drive you to post something false or private of theirs on social media. And don’t let it drive you to verbally tell anyone those things either. Take time to cool down. Sleep on it. Then, go back to your friend and try to talk it out. Be wise, and don’t burn the bridges of friendship with one angry outburst.

But, it can also start other ways. When a friend tells you something in confidence, seeking advice, but you don’t have the wisdom to help them, you’re tempted to go to someone else to get help and advice. But you need to be sure that’s okay with your friend, first. After all, they told you and only you for a reason. And if you do need to seek someone else’s advice, choose an adult you trust and make sure it’s okay with your friend that you talk to that adult. Don’t go to a peer, who may not have any more advice than you. That peer may go to one of their friends, and on and on. Then, the information is spread, your friend finds out, and they’re angry at you. It can lead to big problems, and losing a friendship.

Don’t let gossip create divisions among you and your friends. If you need help with something your friend told you, ask them if you can talk to a trusted adult. And respect their answer. If you’re angry or have a problem with a friend, don’t rant on social media or to another friend. Take time to cool down, and go talk it out with your friend. Chances are, you’ll be able to save the friendship.

Judging Labels

We all judge people. It’s a part of our human nature, whether we want to do it or not. We could even try not to judge others, but we will do it anyway. We can, however, choose to look past those judgments. To get to know the person we’re judging. More often than not, we’ll find our own judgement was wrong.

There are many things we use to judge other people. We do it at a glance every day. And when we judge someone, we put a label on them. We find one or two words that “describe” them.

But a person can’t be defined in just one or two words.

When we label someone, we put them in a box. And when we interact with them, if we ever do, we expect them to stay in the box with that label. And sometimes expectation is all it takes to beat a person into staying in that box, into living up to the label that may not describe them.

We judge others and label them using many factors, taking things in at a glance. Mannerisms, clothing, posture, cleanliness, manner of speech, and even skin color. All theses are things we use to judge and label others. And others use these things to judge and label us.

But these judgments are based off of our own perceptions and preferences. They’re not fact. When we judge others, we bring in our own experiences and tastes. Things we’ve learned, beliefs we have or have adopted.

There’s always more to a person than what we judge them by.

Each of us has a soul, a past, a story to tel. If we judge before we know a person, we could miss out on a great story, a great lesson, a great friend.

We can’t expect ourselves to stop judging others. It’s human nature. But we can get ourselves to look past those judgments and get to know the person we’re judging. We don’t have to get to know every person we come across. That’s not feasible. But we should always remember that there’s more to a person than meets the eye. Appearances aren’t everything, and they can be deceiving.

 

After all, isn’t there more to you than what can be seen with the naked eye?

 

I’ve fairly recently watched a documentary on Netflix — “A Girl Like Her”. If you haven’t watched it, do. It’s a testament to a lot of the problems among teens and pre-teens in the world today. And I found it powerful.

 

Everyone reacts to situations differently. And everyone deals with different situations. But there are ultimately, from what I’ve observed, two ways of personally dealing with any given situation — internalizing and externalizing.

Internalizers encounter problems by pulling into themselves — especially when it’s something they don’t want to make a big deal of (for any reason). They don’t like to talk about it. Externalizers recognize the problem, but they tell others about it in some way — usually in no plain terms relating to the issue. They put it out into the world through their tone, their words, their actions–some way.

The documentary I mentioned above is a great example of this. It follows Jessica and Avery — two girls who go to the same high school and who used to be friends. But then Jessica attempts suicide and is left in a coma. The film crew are already at the school for another reason, but pick up on this thread of how and why a girl at such a renowned high school, that has just won an award for its greatness, would attempt suicide. Avery, the popular girl of the sophomores, agrees to show the world what it is to be popular–and the pressures that go with it. A hidden camera reveals much of the happenings between Avery and Jessica, and lent much to the impact the movie had on me.

Be forewarned, there are SPOILERS ahead if you’ve not seen the documentary. I recommend that you go and watch it before reading, as I do not want to take away from the messages by analyzing parts of the movie and personalities.

This documentary is ultimately about bullying as it is today. Because the documentary is my example, that’s the context I’ve used in this post. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t many more ways internalizing/externalizing can manifest. This is one context, as observed by me. However, this can be a common manifestation among teens and pre-teens in our world today — it’s an important aspect to helping our children grow up healthy and feeling loved.

Jessica and Avery. Of the two, Jessica is the internalizer. She pulled the problems she faced into herself, keeping quiet about what was happening to her. She didn’t even want to talk about it with her best friend who knew what was going on. And because this is how she processed the problem, Avery’s words started to eat at her. Jessica started to believe what Avery said. That’s part of the reason she attempted suicide–she believed Avery. Another part of the reason was because she felt trapped–“It’s never going to stop,” she said so many times. She couldn’t see how it could get any better; she only saw it getting worse. And because she’s an internalizer, she didn’t tell anyone how she was really feeling, and there was no one to encourage her and combat what Avery said.

There are probably more factors involved–I can’t pretend to know everything about Jessica. I’m not her. And I’m not saying that what happened was Jessica’s fault, because it wasn’t. When you feel as trapped as it seemed Jessica felt, you truly believe there’s no way out and that no one will understand–and you’re afraid to tell someone, for fear that they’ll confirm your fears.

Avery is the externalizer. In a sense, she recognizes the problems she’s facing internally. I say “in a sense” because I’m not sure Avery really thought about them and recognized that they were problems–but a deeper part of her did. Though the problems were internal, Avery’s reactions were external, and they weren’t always good. Avery dealt with lots of pressure from home–pressure to be perfect, to be as her controlling mother wanted. Avery didn’t want her mother controlling her life, so she tried to control where she could–at school. I got the sense that she felt invisible at home, so she did what she could to get the attention she so craved at school, no matter if it was good or bad attention.

Avery’s external expression of her hurt was by bullying Jessica–controlling someone else’s life and getting the attention of the school, even though it was negative attention. Everyone knew Avery’s name, and that’s what she wanted. But Jessica attempting suicide isn’t entirely Avery’s fault either.

Both of these girls are very, very hurt. Though they expressed the hurt differently, you can see it in both of them. They had different hurts from different situations as well. A line stuck out to me from the movie, from a parent at a meeting with the school board: “Hurt people are the ones who hurt people.” It’s something we all need to remember. Why did Avery hurt Jessica? Because she was hurting, though she tried to hide it behind her actions. Avery took her hurt out on others, those outside of herself–externalizing. Jessica took her hurt out on herself, listening to the voices in her head that repeated what Avery told her so often–internalizing.

There is so much more to be said on this documentary, so many things that I saw through it. We will continue to talk about internalizing and externalizing, and other issues I noticed from the documentary that are a huge part of our world today. There are so many hurt people out there, but for the sake of time we will leave this here for now.

Next time, we’re going to look at judging others–whether we think we do or not.

And remember–everyone’s hurt by something in some way. Everybody’s been through so much in their lifetimes, no matter how young or old. These two girls are sophomores–and already there’s so much hurt seen here.

 

What do you think? Are you an internalizer or an externalizer?

Me? I’m an internalizer, and always have been. I was able to connect with both of these girls through different things–I may call Avery a bully, but until I know her, I can’t begin to understand what she’s going through. I’ve learned much. What have you learned?

Powerful Stories

Stories, when told well, are one of the most powerful forces in our world. They inspire us. They can help us discover ourselves, help shape who we become. And they can help us rediscover parts of ourselves, too. Even when we don’t know we’ve lost ourselves.

Here’s an illustration from my own experience: with a Harry Potter school event approaching, a friend mentions re-reading the series. I think it’s a great idea and decide to as well–I haven’t read them in years. Spring break is only a couple of weeks away, so I should have plenty of time. I borrow book 1 and begin reading. Then a week before spring break, my boyfriend and I break up–and we’d been talking of marriage in the future. As I continue reading the series, I’m readjusting my lifestyle and thinking patterns, processing our whole relationship.

Stories are one of the most powerful unseen forces on this planet. Rereading Harry Potter, I found aspects of the story I never realized were there. I’ve read those books numerous times and I still discover something new every time I read them. This time, I realized truths about relationships and found comfort in that it took Harry months to get over Cho, to look at her and feel no pain or longing. I was reaffirmed in the power and strength of friendship.

And I rediscovered my inner child, a part of me that makes me who I am and greatly influences my perspective of the world. I lost that part of myself while I was dating, even as I grew in other areas of who I am. I rediscovered my passion for reading YA novels and my reasons for wanting to write to that audience.

And another story only reaffirmed many of these things for me, especially in my writing. By now, I’d started to settle back into being single and learned again to be just friends with guys. I graduated and said goodbye to many wonderful lifetime friends, found a summer job, and moved into my own apartment.

Whisper of the Heart has one of the cheesiest endings ever, but it’s the middle of the movie that inspires me.

Mr. Nishi: Wait a minute, I’ve got something to show you (retrieves a rock from his cabinet). I think you’ll like this (hands Shizuku the rock) – take a look.

Shizuku: It looks like a rock.

Mr. Nishi: It’s a special kind of rock called geode. Hold it close to your eye and look inside – that’s right, like that. (Shines small torch beside stone, which lights up the green crystals inside)

Shizuku:(gasps) Look at that!

Mr. Nishi: Those crystals are called beryl. There are pieces of raw emerald still inside.

Shizuku: Aren’t emeralds worth a lot of money?

Mr. Nishi: Sure, but they need to be cut and polished first. When you first become an artist, you are like that rock. You’re in a raw and natural state, with hidden gems inside. You have to dig deep down and find the emeralds tucked away inside you. And that’s just the beginning. Once you have found your gems, you have to polish them. It takes a lot of hard work. Oh, and here’s the tricky part – look at the crack in the geode.

Shizuku: OK (looks inside the top crack)

Mr. Nishi: You see the big green crystal there, you could spend years polishing that, and it wouldn’t be worth much at all. The smaller crystals are much more valuable. And there may even be some deeper inside, which we can’t see, that are even more precious …

This movie helped me realize that I’ve started to uncover the gems hidden inside me. Stories and relationships can do that, guys–uncover the gems inside us.

Stories often have more power than we realize. And the most powerful ones never leave us, but live on within us. Sometimes, revisiting a story we know well is what we need most. It can help us rediscover parts of ourselves.

And maybe we’ll learn something new, too.

 

What are some of the stories that have shaped you? Have you ever rediscovered a part of yourself through rereading a novel or series? Please share your thoughts below!

Hello friends! Sorry I haven’t been posting lately. I just finished college, so everything with graduation, pinning down a summer job, and moving in to my first-ever apartment got a little crazy and time-consuming. Honestly, part of it was just my priority of spending the time I had left with my college friends. But I’m back, and I hope you all will continue to read. Thank you for sticking with me, even through these stretches where I haven’t posted. I am trying to get the posts up no matter what.

Moving on to the topic for this week, I want to talk about inspiration. Specifically, what inspiration is and how we can inspire others. It’s something so many people in our world talk about. It’s a question we often get asked: “Who/What inspired you to be a (insert hobby/profession/job/passion here)?” But what is being inspired? And how can we inspire others?

Most of the time we talk about inspiration, we talk about a person. Even if it’s a thing, such as a story, it’s connected to a person. That’s just how our brains work. But the person isn’t what inspires us–it’s the story behind the person that does. And because we connect the story with that person, the story that inspired us has a face. Think of all the ‘based on a true story’ movies out there, such as The Gabby Douglas Story. Why is Gabby Douglas so inspiring to so many gymnasts? Because of the story behind her success. And Gabby gives a face to that story, so it’s often said, “Gabby Douglas inspired me.”

Those that inspire are those that have shared their stories.

We can even be inspired by those whose stories we don’t know. Why? We can see the story behind their actions, their success. We can see in how they conduct themselves how hard they’ve worked to get where they are, that maybe they had to go through rough times to get there. It’s all connected to the story.

And we can inspire others too. Maybe the world won’t hear our stories, but someone out there will. Besides, there’s not a soul in this world, not one human being who can inspire everyone else in this world. (Except Jesus, but to keep the length of this post from getting out of hand, we won’t got there today.) Why? Because there are so many different personalities, so many different experiences that make each of us who we are. And none of those experiences is going to be exactly the same. Not one, even with 7 million people on this planet.

So how do people inspire nations? They don’t necessarily inspire entire nations. Not every single person in the nation is inspired by one individual. But many people within the nations can be inspired, and that’s where the saying comes from. “You’ll inspire nations.” Yes, maybe you will, maybe you can. But what you’re really doing is connecting with the people similar to you, those that feel as though something about you is the same as something about them. There’s a connection there, and no one can connect with everyone.

But we don’t have to inspire nations. We can inspire the few people we have around us, inspire our communities, but we have to share ourselves first. Maybe people will wonder about you; something in your actions may inspire them, even a little. But if your actions inspire someone, think of what the story behind those actions can do. Not only for that person, but for others around them, others around you.

You can inspire people right where you’re at. Sure, you can get your story out onto the internet and inspire others around the world. But that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about putting your story out in your own community, even in your friend group or at your school. I know it’s scary sharing with peers and with people you don’t know. It’s hard to be vulnerable with them. Just start small, with your family and friends. Start with those you trust, and work your way outward in small, concentric circles. You won’t regret it (eventually. You might just after you do it, but you will come to be glad you did it).

And maybe you will inspire someone you never thought you could; maybe you won’t know who you’ll inspire. But I promise you, there is someone out there who will be inspired by your story. Maybe not right now, maybe not where you are right now. But someday, there will be someone. Even if you don’t know it.

As I finished up college, I lost a close friend coming out of my first dating relationship. But I gained much more than I lost. I gained new friends, and I learned much about myself. And I was inspired by his story, though I never told him that. He may never know that he inspired me to confront myself, to face who I was and figure that out. To believe in myself. And I’ve talked to friends, had them write some of their favorite memories with me. I’ve only read one so far, but I can tell by what he wrote that, in some small way, I might have inspired him a little. And I’ve had other friends say similar things to what he wrote.

Some of these people, I’ve never told my story to. But I’ve inspired them, even if it’s only one small area of my and their lives. And maybe if I’d shared my story, I could have inspired them more. Maybe I could have learned their stories and been inspired in return.

This is a big part of what relationships are about, friends. You can inspire each other in the everyday things of life, in the smallest portion of your stories. You can inspire others farther out than that, too.

But it all starts with sharing your story. You never know how powerful it might be.

 

What do you think?

Last week, I talked with you all about reader-character relationships. This week, we’re going to look at it from the author’s side. And honestly, I couldn’t have had a better day leading up to writing this post. Because my characters and I share bonds, and sometimes those bonds bring my own emotional baggage with them. But back to that later.

First, let’s explore the bonds that happen between writers and their characters. If you’re a writer, you have other people living in your head, telling you their story. And you listen. Whether you write down their story or not, those characters are there. And, in a sense, you talk to them. For some writers, this is just like having a conversation with another person. For others, it’s a little different, because you feel you’re just listening to their stories and aren’t really conversing with them. There might even be a third way out there I’ve never heard of.

I’m one of the latter, but as time’s gone on and I’ve been working on the second draft of a novel, I’ve realized that’s not necessarily true. We may not feel as though we’re actually conversing with our characters, but we do have a relationship with them, we do talk to them in a way. And we create bonds with them, however our brains work.

Throughout the past year, reading over the first draft of this story I wrote two years ago, I realized I’d learned a lot from these characters, from the story they’d told me. And when I was writing this draft, I had no idea that I’d go back two years later to read it… and realize I’d kind of been writing my own story. It’s different from what I experienced, but many of the things I learned and started to understand in the past year I wrote in that first draft. Weird.

As I’ve started to rewrite the novel, it’s been a fun process. And I figured I could use my own new relationship experiences to make the novel richer. At that point, I knew what it was to be in a relationship, but I didn’t know how it felt when that kind of relationship ended. But I didn’t think about it too much. I figured I’d deal with that problem when I got there.

Except my relationship ended much sooner than I got to that point in the novel. And now I’ve gotten to the point where two of my characters start a relationship. This is where I realized I had relationships with my characters, even though I’ve never talked to them like I’ve talked to a person. Because as I tried to tell their story, mine came to mind. And as I was thinking about that, I told them about it, in a way. And I’m going to be learning from them as I continue to push through writing this draft. I know that telling their story will help me come to terms and cope with mine.

That’s just my story though. I believe the adage all writers, and some readers, hear that says in each character is a piece of the writer, even if it’s the merest sliver. I saw that today. As I re-read some of my first draft, following my characters’ stories, I found some of myself in each of them. And I’m learning from them, because they’re still different from me.

I don’t believe any writer forgets any of the characters they’ve met that live within them, even if that character’s story never gets written down or published. Because that writer and character share a bond, a relationship. And by living within each of those relationships, we can learn something about someone else, another perspective, or even something new about ourselves.

 

Do you have relationships with your own characters? What’s your story?

Let’s help each other learn about the relationships that are out there.

I’m going to switch tracks a little here, going to one of my favorite nerd fandoms. I just recently finished re-reading the Harry Potter series, and it’s been an amazing experience, as always. But I learned some new things about myself and about relationships throughout this re-read, especially since I have been struggling recently.

So, what did I learn? That not only can we have people-people relationships, people-pet relationships, people-God relationships, and so on, but we can also have reader-character or writer-character relationships. As a writer myself, I see the difference between the two. For this post, I’m going to focus on reader-character relationships, because they can be deeply impactful and wonderful learning relationships.

A lot of avid readers have a few books they’ll revisit over the course of their lifetime, re-reading and re-connecting with the characters in the story. When you first pick up a book, you as the reader are establishing relationships with each character you come into contact with, each character that impacts you. You’re also connecting and establishing a relationship, through those characters and that story, to the person who wrote the story. No matter what story you pick up, no matter now many books an author has published or written, there is at the very least a little bit of that author in each of his or her stories.

Because of my recent reading of Harry Potter, I am going to be using that for the illustrations throughout this post. For me, I’ve learned a lot about myself in the last year and a half, and it’s been ten years since I’ve read the series. I re-connected with the characters quickly, as if they were old friends. I followed them once more on their journey, bringing with me my own new experiences and perspectives. Thus, I was able to see more through the story, and more in the characters, than any other time I’ve read the series.

As I read the last word on the last page of the last book, closing the amazing journey, I realized I’d learned so much more than I’d expected to. I’d been reunited with old friends, friends who have now helped me through two tough transitions in my life. I understood Harry and his friends better, understood some of their struggles, saw through some of their lies and their fronts.

Anytime you open up a book and start reading, you establish a relationship with at least one, and probably more, of the characters in that story. You follow the characters on the journey, you laugh and cry with them, you feel for them. Sometimes, you go to them to escape whatever you’re going through at that point in life. And you learn about life from them.

I’ve always known that books can teach me a lot, even fiction. But I’ve only just realized how that happens. In any given story, you’re following a character, privy to their thoughts, emotions, and actions, both internal and external. And that’s as intimate as getting to know a real person. The experiences you bring with you, you unconsciously give to the character, and the character shares his or her struggles with you. It’s as give and take as any relationship between two people.

And because of this established relationship between reader and character, the reader can learn from the character: from the mistakes, the thoughts, the lessons the character learns. I know I learned tons from Harry, Ron, and Hermione throughout the series. Sure, I knew the plot, I knew exactly what was going to happen. But the parts of the story that hit me the hardest, I never expected to hit me as hard as they did.

A notable thing I learned from Harry, that I already knew but had been struggling with, was that getting over a relationship, getting over a person takes time and lots of it. Harry spent months getting over Cho, and though I know that his situation and mine are as different as could be, I was still able to learn. I’ve only been out of my own relationship for a month. It’s still hard, but Harry helped me understand things I knew but hadn’t comprehended.

Another thing I learned through this, within the last book, is how important it is to face oneself, to let go of one’s past mistakes. Because if you can’t do that, you’ll never be able to truly move on with your life. And you’ll never be able to face those fears you have, to trace them back to their source.

Honestly, I couldn’t even list how many new things I learned from Harry Potter on this re-read. But I do know one thing: anytime I need a friend, I can open the covers and reignite relationships with the characters in the story. It doesn’t have to be Harry Potter, either. I can open any book and establish new relationships with new characters, or feel welcomed home by old friends.

For me, I have established many relationships as I have read books, and many important relationships. Some of the hardest and most important things I have learned in life have come from reading about a character. We can learn from our fictional counterparts because there is always some truth within the stories we are reading.

We are always establishing relationships, even if we haven’t had human contact for a while. And you can learn just as much, and sometimes more or different things, from a relationship with a character as with a person.

 

What are some of your favorite relationships with characters? How have knowing different characters and reading their stories impacted your life, taught you things?

Feel free to share!

Hello, friends. Sorry I haven’t posted for a couple of weeks, but it’s been a little crazy here in my mind. I haven’t had many coherent thoughts regarding relationships due to some recent changes in some of my own close relationships. It’s been a bit of an emotional struggle, and may continue to be, but I have found that I can at least have coherent thoughts on relationships again. Thanks for your understanding!

 

As my brief silence has demonstrated, relationships are hard. Sometimes you have to choose between different relationships, which one needs the most nurturing. It’s not necessarily putting one above the other indefinitely, but rather putting one above the other for a moment in time. It’s putting one above the other(s) based on your own personal needs, and sometimes your friends’ needs, at that point in time.

Balancing relationships takes time, effort, and trial and error. It’s complicated because there can be a lot of people and emotions involved, on both your part and your friends’ part. We are people constantly in different kinds of relationships, and with so many personalities in the world we have to remember to think of both ourselves and those we care about.

The hardest part about having different relationships with different people is all the different needs we each have. You have all of these people outside of you that have different relationship needs from each other and from you. One close friend may need you, while you need a different friend at the moment. The trick is to balance the two, not focusing solely on those outside of yourself, but not focusing solely on yourself either. It keeps your relationships healthy and without bitter feelings.

Relationships take sacrifice, even if it’s only the amount of time we spend on them. And many times relationships require emotional sacrifice as well. We have to sacrifice what our wants and needs are for our friends’, and sometimes we need them to do the same for us. But the thing to remember is that it’s a give and take between you and your friend. If it’s all on one side, someone will start to feel slighted.

One way to avoid problems when it comes to these types of things is to develop a relationship that’s open, where you and your friend both feel comfortable sharing those types of thoughts and feelings with each other. Much of the time, this is all it takes to remedy the problem. If your friend comes to you and says she feels you’re not spending enough time with her, you can fix that and make her more of a priority. But if that friend doesn’t say anything to you, you may not notice, and bitterness can enter that relationship, bogging it down and creating even more problems.

Some of the hardest work in this aspect I have dealt with has been in recognizing the balance I’m holding onto with my relationships. Often, I see it more within my friends as they spend time with one another but not me. But at the same time, I know that it’s a two-way street. Both parties have to make an effort. Luckily, my relationships with these friends are open enough that they know they can tell me if they want me to spend more time with them, and vice versa. It’s a way to be honest and trust one another, and these are some of the closest friends I’ve ever had.

So if you’re struggling to balance relationships, don’t sweat it too much. We all struggle with it, and will continue to for the rest of our lives. Relationships aren’t supposed to be easy; they’re supposed to challenge you and help you grow into a better person. Learning to balance those relationships is an essential part of that process.

 

Have you ever had trouble balancing relationships? Were you able to work it out?

Feel free to ask me questions, and I’d love to hear your stories as well!

5 – Letting Go

We’ve talked about a lot of aspects of relationships throughout this series, but this may be the hardest one to breach. Letting go of a friendship that’s toxic or just no longer there is hard–harder than trying to make a new relationship work.

I’ve been there. Twice I’ve had to really think about letting go of a relationship, and it’s a hard thing to do. When you have a relationship, it’s a hard thing to question, because you love that person. But when it’s no longer healthy and it’s sapping you of energy, there’s something wrong. And maybe it’s time to let go.

 

One-Sided

One relationship I held onto for years before realizing it just wasn’t there anymore. I did everything I could to keep it going, initiating conversations, happy when he actually responded. Of course, he was the only childhood friend I wanted to keep in contact with, so it was hard to let go of that friendship.

But I had to let it go. It became a one-sided friendship, all of the effort coming from me to keep the relationship going. When a friendship becomes so one-sided that the only time you hear from that person is when you contact them, and you’re generating the entirety of the conversation as you’re having it, then it’s no longer a healthy relationship. You’re putting much more effort into it, and honestly, that other person may not even be thinking about you until you contact them.

This isn’t to say that those friends who you always have to contact are like that–I am in no way saying that. There are many people out there who just struggle with making initial contact, as we talked about here. The difference is in whether or not they even seem interested in keeping up with your life. If so, then they’re just not the type to reach out. If not, you might want to consider letting go of a potentially one-sided relationship.

 

Nothing You’ve Done

There are other reasons to let go of a friendship with someone, though. Another reason I’ve encountered is when it’s just not the same relationship anymore. Two of my friends in college dated, and I was close to both of them. But their relationship didn’t last, and neither could all the relationships that surrounded them. The relationship I had with one friend stayed, because it was very outside of the relationship we had as a group. And although the other one was outside of the group as well, I was too connected to my other friend. Keeping our relationship alive hurt him, so I had to let it go.

Sometimes, letting go isn’t for your own good, but for the other person’s. If your relationship is causing them pain, they’re not going to pursue that relationship, no matter how badly you don’t want to lose it. Sometimes, to help them out, you have to let go. Because you care too much about them to hold on and hurt them.

 

There are many other reasons to let go of a relationship; maybe it’s become toxic in some way, or maybe you’ve just grown apart and it’s hard to let go. I won’t go into detail about other reasons here, because I don’t have the experience with them. I’ve not seen them in action, and I would rather not talk about something I’m not sure about.

If you have an experience you’d be willing to share, or you want to add to something I’ve said here, feel free to join in. I’d love to hear your stories and start a discussion on this topic. It’s hard to let go of a relationship, no matter what kind of a relationship it is.

 

Communications Series

1 – Communication with Life’s Stresses

2 – Reaching Out and Being Intentional

3 – Reaching a Deeper Level – Big Talks

4 – Your Friend but Not Theirs

So far in this series, we’ve talked about communication when life is stressful, reaching out to others intentionally, and taking a relationship to a deeper level. This week is a little different, but still relevant to what we’ve been discussing.

Picture this: You have two different friends, both of whom you’re very close to. With each you’ve reached some of the deeper levels of friendship and companionship. They’re both very dear friends of yours. But they hardly know each other. They’ve met a couple of times, but haven’t really had the conversations or time together that you’ve had with each of them. And soon you find out there’s some misunderstanding between them, some tension that you only notice after it’s been voiced to you. But they’re not good friends, so how do they work it out? How do they get together to talk when they’ve not done so before? Do you have to be the go-between?

This is something that can happen often in life, whether when we’re in school, work, or another large place we’re at for a while. And when this scenario comes up, you can feel the tension on both sides. Conversations with each person about the other and what’s going on seem strained and heavy. Almost too heavy for you to bear the weight of both.

Each person is your friend, but not theirs–not the other’s friend. This can easily put a strain on both of your relationships because you don’t want to lose either of them. You don’t want to be prioritizing one over the other, and you start worrying that you will or that you are.

Yet the best thing you can do in this situation is stay calm. Try to get both sides of the story if both friends are forthcoming about it. Then help them get in touch to set up a time to talk it out among themselves, and step back from the situation. There’s not much more you can do.

But what if they don’t want to try to work it out? In my experience, if they’re both close friends of yours, they’ll want to work it out. If they’re close friends, they’ll worry about the strain it’s putting on you and make it a priority to talk about whatever problem there is. But you can’t force them into it. And if they won’t take the time, question why. Ask them what it is that’s holding them back, and hope that they’re honest with you.

This can be a very hard thing to deal with because there’s really nothing you can do. And that’s hard. But you can’t control others’ feelings, thoughts, actions, or desires. It has to be completely up to them. And if they won’t, talk to them about it. Let them know how much it would mean to you if they did. And if they still won’t, then you may have a legitimate reason to question your friendship.

Your friends should be able to make sacrifices for you if they care about you, just as you would make sacrifices for them. This is a problem that’s bothering you because you care about them, because you care about how they’re hurt or whatever it is they’re feeling. In my experience, a deep, lasting friendship is one where there’s mutual sacrifice. And there’s no way to get around that.

So if you ever have this kind of an issue, or even sense something like it, take the time to figure out what it is. Ask those involved about what’s going on, and do what you can to facilitate conversation between your two friends. But don’t keep yourself in the middle or run yourself down with worry. Do what you can, then step back and let them take it the rest of the way. It has to be up to them.

 

What do you think? Do you have any experiences similar to this? What are your suggestions? We all have relational problems in life. Let’s help each other through them.