May 19, 2019
In 2016 I returned to living in Charlotte full-time after being bi-coastal between Charlotte and San Francisco. My romantic relationship was ending and I was back home. Part of what I missed while living in San Francisco was having friends. It was hard for me to find people to intentionally connect with, and I looked forward to creating new connections in my home city.
That first year was amazing. I created my Anime Chics Meetup group, met amazing new people when I started doing Yoga classes, co-founded an online community of Black Yoga teachers, and in general made lots of new connections and even two close friends. I was excited. In my college and post-grad years, I wasn’t particularly social and didn’t have a lot of friends. In hindsight I believe that was due to my then undiagnosed depression. But with new Self awareness, I was ready!
I thought the best way to build conscious relationships with others was to show up and be present. So I did. I took many different Yoga classes taught by the Black women yogis I deeply admired. I made an effort to communicate and keep in touch with people with whom I wanted to be friends. I went to social events and mingled. I invested my time, my energy, my Self, into creating authentic relationships.
But as time went on, my investments weren’t yielding high returns. By 2018 I’d been “dumped” by both of the close friends that I’d cherished. When I earned my two Yoga teacher certifications and started holding classes, I didn’t see the faces of any of the teachers I admired and supported. And I realized that if I stopped reaching out to people, they wouldn’t bother to reach back, that I was the only one keeping the connection going.
It was disheartening, to say the least. I was saddened and disappointed. I didn’t have the friendships that I’d worked so hard for.
But then I switched my perspective to focus on what I DID have.
I had two different Yoga studio owners open their studios to me to teach classes, with little-to-no rent to pay, because they believed in me and wanted to support my growth as a Yoga teacher. I was given the opportunity to teach at a Yoga studio without applying or auditioning based solely on the recommendation of a fellow teacher. I gained an adjunct teaching position at a local HBCU, once again based solely on the recommendation of a fellow teacher, a fellow teacher with whom I actually became real friends. I reconnected with a loved one from my past and built a new relationship with them. I made a new connection who sincerely did the work to truly become my friend. And my 4-person Anime Chics meetup group grew from little club into a loving family of 16, a family with whom I traveled to Japan this very year.
I have friends. I have people who love me and support me and believe in me. I have loved ones who choose to be in my life and make the effort to do so. And I honor them by giving back that same love and support and effort. The ones who choose to be present with me are the ones who get the most of me. In the past I’d be worried about giving the wrong impression; I’d work to be present in “the community” so folks wouldn’t think I was ignoring them or didn’t care about them. I’d go to different workshops and classes and functions just to be a part, to be supportive, and hope that my presence and support would be noticed and appreciated.
I’m over that bullshyt now.
The only folks who think I’m “gone” or “off doing my own thing,” are surprised when I pop up at an event, are the ones who don’t bother reaching out to see where I am. Because the truth is, I’m right here. I haven’t gone anywhere at all. And my true friends know this. So I no longer try to do every workshop or support every class. I attend what I want only when I want to for MY SELF, not to be noticed by others or to support those who don’t see me. That’s much healthier and authentic, after all. And when I happen to run into some folks I know, I happily chat and catch up. I still like them (most of them, anyway, lol), and I genuinely want people to be doing well. But I know who my friends are and who they aren’t. Not everyone I like or admire, likes or admires me back.
And that is okay.
Be well, spirits. 🙏🏾❤