by Asha Elana Casey. Photography by Deun Ivory.
I sometimes forget that we are constantly evolving and growing. Changes happen so gradually that before we know it we are different people. Hobbies and interests become lifestyles and we all become strangers overnight. Genuine conversations turn into one sided interviews and we are constantly in a cycle of relearning each other.
Maybe we forgot to check in and over the past ten years we began to wonder how we were ever friends in the first place. What did we even have in common?
It was only after a recent misunderstanding, I realized that my friends and I will never be the same people we knew ten years ago. Time has changed us substantially.
It's important to make time to reevaluate our relationships and check in. When are relationships worth keeping?
I can only know the benefits of our friendships if I know my expectations and needs. Healthy relationships are reflections of healthy individuals.
"It is not selfish to put yourself first, it's self full."- Iyanla Vanzant
What do I expect from them and is it an equal exchange of care? If not, have we addressed that? What are the core beliefs that hold our friendship together?
Growing up my friendships were centered on shallow things like social hierarchy and proximity. In my adult experience, those relationships remain, but deeper lifetime friendships have emerged too. As I got older, I began to understand the difference between associates, seasonal, and lifetime friends.
Every friendship will not last longer than a season. And, if you outgrows them, It's ok to let friendships die. But, you have to be cognizant of what you need at all times and the part you play.
Proximity and Closeness in age does not make someone a friend or a lifetime friend. Similarities are just that. Similarities.
New friendships center trust and freedom to be yourself.
If you have to shift or change yourself to fit into a community or lifestyle there will never be truth to those friendships. They will never have the pleasure of enjoying your company! Be your full self! Those that are for you, will still be for you. Be mindful of those who are false associates or friends. If any bit of what they say or do feels shady it probably is.
Don't let anyone come for you that you didn't ask for. If a space is not welcoming, leave it. If you need a loose tie (a connection with an associate to move forward career wise) , so be it, but please remember to put yourself first. No one or place is worth compromising yourself for.
Lastly, Be mindful of the type of friend you are.
My best friend and I have rehashed this conversation throughout our ten year friendship. And, if I am honest, I have been a toxic friend in the past. And, honestly it is a growth process. As the years progress, I get better with people and I myself become a better person. I know that it is always my job to be mindful of who I am and how I interact with others. Sometimes we become so self absorbed and fall into such unhealthy patterns, that we forget how they affect our friends who are going through their own lives.
No one can live your life for you.
It's ok to seek professional help. It's not an insult to who you are and if that will help you be your best self do it. Using what ever resources you have to seek help is an act of self care. When you are full and healthy, then you can be present for everyone else. No one life journey will look the same. No one will have a perfect life. But, there is peace in having the tools to get out of the dark and empty places.
Asha Elana Casey is an mixed media artist and art teacher based in Washington, DC. She contributed to BGIO because writing is a release and it frees her spirit. Her self love practice includes African dance, Prayer, Painting, and Writing. You can find Asha Elana Casey at @elanapaints on Instagram, @ashacaseystudio on Twitter, and elanacaseystudio.com