SPOTLIGHT SUBMISSIONS - Honest Friendships by Liz Hadley
by: Liz Hadley of Chicago, IL
I’ve done a lot of “growing up” this past year. I graduated college and packed up my life to move to a city where I didn’t know a soul. After living in Chicago for four months, I’m proud to say I have finally made some friends (it’s kinda hard when you aren’t in college anymore and you don’t know anyone) However, my newfound relationships really got me thinking about what friendship is supposed to look like as a twenty-something. What does it mean to be a true friend? How can I do that while I’m still trying to figure myself out and what I need from others? Sometimes I feel like who I am, or who I think I am, can change like the weather. How are we supposed to have deep, lasting friendships when we are constantly changing and recreating ourselves into who we want to be? These questions are tough, and I don’t claim to have all of the answers, but I can tell you of my own experiences and what I’ve learned about how to - and how not to - be a real friend.
I’ll be honest - sometimes I can be SO FAKE. I never realized it until I had to start making friends all over again the first time when I moved from a small community in Oklahoma to a state university that had more students in the dorm towers than in my town. In college, I found myself constantly swearing to grab lunch or coffee with someone, but never following through. I would give my word to others, only to go back on it and never give it another thought. But that was O.K., right? Because I’m twenty-two and I have so much going on, and so do you! So this is what we do.We act like we care and want to catch up, but we never actually put in the time and energy it takes to deeply invest in relationships.
Here’s what I found.
I had no friends. I know, you’re probably thinking “okay, drama queen, you had to have some friends.” Yeah, maybe you’re right. But I honestly did not have a person in my life that I was deeply investing in. Equally, I didn’t have anyone who was investing in me. I had spent so much time going through the motions and being busy that I neglected to pause the bullshit and create relationships that were sustaining and life-giving. So - I knew I needed to slow down and invest, but what does it actually look like to be a real friend to someone?
I’ve never really struggled with being honest with people. I’m blunt, open, and real. My title as “not the friend you want, but the friend you need” still rings just as true as it always has, but I know for many of us out there we want to be nice and tell our friends what they want to hear, especially our dearest ones. What I have found is that honesty, regardless of how difficult it may be, is the necessary foundation of real friendship. Kindness is great and I should probably try it a little bit more, but authentic honesty allows us to know one another to our cores. When I finally realized my lack of genuine friendship, I made it a priority to open my heart. Despite the mess, hurt, and weirdness inside, I let others truly know me. It was freeing. It was beautiful. I felt accepted and loved in a way I never had before, and it was simply because these women loved me and were bold enough to be honest with me when I needed it. They knew the REAL me, not the person I tried to act like I was or that others expected me to be. Bottom line is that there is, undoubtedly, a sense of messiness and instability in friendships in our twenties. We’re busy and all over the place all of the time. But it is vital that we take a moment to slow down enough to find a few relationships worth truly investing in. We owe it to ourselves and to those we claim to love to be audaciously honest. With the stability and freedom you will find, you’ll thank yourself (and maybe me) in the long run.
Author, Liz Hadley
Just a small town girl, faking my way as a local in Chicago, IL. I teach 6th grade down South at an urban school, and in my free time I like to bake cookies, read the news, and listen to podcasts. Probably the world's worst singer and your grandmother's next best-friend.
"And you don't do it for the men, men never notice. Just do it for yourself, girl you da coldest." - Drake