Shine On, Shine On...
In 2013, Ann Friedman wrote an article called Why Powerful Women Make The Greatest Friends on The Cut. This is definitely worth the time to read, but if you haven't the time right now, then the long and the short of it is this: people should not be intimidated by friends who are more successful than them, they should be proud of them and see how well it reflects on them in turn.
To quote Friedman, "When you meet a woman who is intimidatingly witty, stylish, beautiful, and professionally accomplished, befriend her. Surrounding yourself with the best people doesn’t make you look worse by comparison. It makes you better."
Her article was based specifically on female friendships, but I want to stretch that out to be more general. Friendships of any age and gender with any age and gender.
When I was younger, I was always scared of having clever friends, because I was never clever enough to compete with them. I was always certain that were they to find out that I wasn't as smart, or as popular, or as beautiful as them, they would kick me out and not bother to see where I landed. It was only much later, when I had come to terms with the bullying I had faced and the pressures that had been heaped upon me by society, that I realized that the most important people in my life remained those who were smarter, more stylish, more beautiful and accomplished than I was.
And I was okay with that.
There is a very powerful feeling of love that comes from being proud of a friend for doing well. There is a very powerful feeling of pride that comes from seeing a friend achieve a goal of theirs. And there is a very powerful sense of relief when you realize that you needn't compare yourself to them in order to feel worthy.
Friends are incredible in that they don't judge you for your job, your lack thereof, your wardrobe or your choice of music for a roadtrip. Friends are people who you can complain to, laugh with, enjoy time with, and feel yourself grow stronger from the connection. Friendship is such a powerful element in our lives; it is absolutely invaluable.
A few years ago, I started a very slow and difficult process of culling people from my life who I no longer felt needed to be there. People who were either toxic to me, or manipulative. People who I was "friends" with because years and years ago we had a mutual acquaintance. People who I was "friends" with because someone told me once that I had to be, in order to look good or appear kinder. I no longer had energy for those connections, and I burned those bridges, and I can honestly say that I haven't ever regretted it. I feel free to be a more true version of myself than I was when those people were in my life.
And looking back, I realize that the people who are in my life now are people who are driven, people who are talented and who work on that talent each and every day, people who are not afraid to stand up against oppression, people who are not afraid of their own point of view.
The people I have in my life now, are more accomplished than I am. Some have the most enviable jobs. Others have the most enviable partners. A few have their own homes, now, and are starting to think about raising a family. A few of them have families already. Others still are incredible at their craft, be it art or writing or dancing or singing. They are people who I look up to because I want to be as good as they are, I want to be as dedicated, and as courageous as they are. The people in my life now are people whose praises I sing to anyone wiling to listen.
I am so proud of my friends. I am proud of every single thing they achieve and every step they take to becoming who they truly are. And I am so proud to say that I am nowhere near in their league of creative endeavor, or volunteer organization, or linguistic capability. I am proud of that. Because that means that those people, those incredible people, see something in me that they believe to be powerful and special and worthy of recognition. It means that these people, who clearly have good taste in every aspect of their lives, find me to be worthy enough to keep in theirs.
And that's something that no one can take away from me. Or from you, with your friends.
So this blog is just a shout out to my amazing friend-family, for being who you are and never backing down from that. I love you all!