22 September 2015
We could learn a lot from crayons; some are sharp, some are pretty, some are dull, while others bright, some have weird names, but they all have learned to live together in the same box. ~Robert Fulghum
Let us root for one another!
For our attempts—that may or may not turn out. For our truths—that might hurt to tell or hear. For our hearts—that exalt and that crush. For our dreams—that if we let them, will stretch us into exciting new territory.
I think most of us deeply desire to support and booster our friends this way. And with equal fervor, we hope they will do the same for us.
For me, friendships are a cornerstone of a satisfied life. Yet, meaningful relationships are challenging. Sooner or later, we will feel vulnerable, exposed, insufficient, hurt.
What can get in the way of being supportive for me is my insecurity. A quick mental calculation compares my smarts, my looks, my clothing, my accomplishments to a friend’s and finds mine thoroughly deficient.
First off, the very process of comparison takes us away from the potential to be present with someone and understand a piece of them. Then, the outcome of this rundown leaves me feeling either less than or with a superior edge. Let’s just say, I am not at my best in either place. It’s a lose-lose situation.
The cool thing here though? This place of vulnerability can be an opportunity for a win-win if we’re willing to get honest about it.
When I resort to comparisons it’s often because I’m feeling challenged or unsure of myself. I’m looking for bolstering. And I’m playing dirty to get it.
We want to know our friends are in our court, that they will be there when we need them, that they want to share our joys and our sorrows.
Yet even if they give us all that, our friends will still challenge us. We won’t always see or do things the same way. We will not necessarily adore the same books or find the same food irresistible. We will have different relationships with our partners and prefer different workouts, morning routines, shoe styles. There will be places where substantial values flex and bend in different directions.
Where this gets tricky is when our self-worth hinges on conformity and validation lies in unison voices.
As I explore this, I’m finding a wonderful freedom in allowing differences rather than resisting them. There’s richness when we listen, query, understand. Or, accept and consider when we cannot understand.
I believe intimate connection is a backbone in most of our lives. And the blood flowing through that spine is expressing our unique selves.
Because of our differences, this takes courage, even with our friends. Sometimes our unique selves feel wobbly. Hiding behind the cheap shots of comparison and conformity, we swallow our words or use them in ways we regret. But we can practice finding our own truths and speaking them. In a deep and true friendship, this is a gift.
I’m eager to stick with this, to dig in deeper. When I feel my shoulders tighten or my anger rise, I want to let go of these defensive reactions and hone a better strategy. To be courageous. To speak up. And, to take different perspectives to heart.
When we extend this courage to those who appreciate it, who also crave it, I think we’ll all find ourselves in the bleachers rooting with wild, whole-hearted abandon.