People say that it’s hard for some women to form bonds or friendships with other women because of the tediousness it entails. Somehow, women have been seemingly wired to take each other down and view each other as competition. I don’t know if there’s some primal instinct (made recessive over evolution but still figuring strongly in the female psyche) that wires women this way. Or maybe it could just be me. My experiences, even as a young girl, with female-folk have always been to size up the competition. Who’s the better dresser, who’s prettier, who’s wittier, who’s more demure. Ironically, my exclusive all-girls education hadn’t also really prepared me to interact better with guys. Despite the inherent cattiness and internalized misogyny, I’m more comfortable dealing with females.
I don’t really have a best friend (save for Teki). I dunno… ever since I could remember, I found it difficult and strained to befriend people, more so with other girls. The moment I strike an interest in a playmate to elevate them into a more permanent status, they tend to veer away or gravitate towards other girls. And growing up in a strict household, I wasn’t allowed to go out to play or go on play-dates, so it didn’t really help develop much my social skills.
That’s why it pains me so when, over the course of time, I find myself outgrowing some people who once upon a time, you thought the world of, and was willing to take bullets for. I’ve most certainly invested significant time, effort and affection into building and nurturing these relationships. Some may not have even really wronged you, even directly. But somehow, there are certain circumstances that make one get a better glimpse of who they really are as a person and their values, what they stand for. And somehow, you find these aspects about them as just being non-negotiable. No matter the length or depth of the friendship.
I feel a twinge of regret from time to time. Maybe I judged too harshly, too quickly. Maybe the friendship could have still been repaired, had I exerted more effort. But then, I’m reminded that I’ve come to terms with who I am, and learned to truly love my person. I just can’t accept or accommodate anyone who doesn’t value or puts me in the same esteem as I do. For far too long, I believe that I’ve acquiesced and compromised for the sake of relationships. Later on, I realize, that I’m not important to these people. The latitude I’ve been extending were all for naught. They’ve made up their minds about me. Hence, the decision to break off ties regardless the number of years comes with ease and resolve. I realize that in showing others how to respect you, you need to show them not only what you cannot accept, but also consider the things that you tolerate. Small incivilities create a permissive environment for big incivilities. Once you learn to love yourself, you cannot tolerate others who don’t.
Sometimes, it feels like making the best choices for yourself requires letting somebody go or somebody down. Maybe women are socialized to put the needs of others ahead of their own; how society is set up to make some shoulder more than their share of the burden, so claiming space for yourself, is so radical and liberating. In the end, I realized that maybe perhaps these people weren’t meant to continue on the journey with me.
Oprah’s words ring so clear and true. And from them, I take comfort.