I’ve never been good at making friends. For one thing I come from a conservative religious background that can sometimes make it hard for people to relate to me very much, bu more importantly I suffer from social anxiety. In my mind I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to be my friend. After all, who would want to be friends with someone who doesn’t go out on Friday nights? Someone who struggles with slang and preferred research in the library over shopping?
Growing up, I made the effort to be the friend people would want even though the people I befriended didn’t provide me with the friendships I deserved as most of them would take advantage of my generosity for their personal gain. I had conceded to the idea that I just should take what I was given if I ever wanted to have any friends. Looking back it honestly was a subtle form of self-harm (which is not surprising to me given my deliberate self -injury behavior as a teen) that stopped once I met my best friend Jaden* during freshmen year of high school, who really got me out of my shell by encouraging me to just be myself to the point that started to open up more.
Now as an adult friendships are a bit more complicated with the added responsibilities of family and making a living, yet I have found that these mature relationships, especially with women, are more significant as it isn’t about being a part of an “in-crowd” or anything like that, instead it is about building life-long relationships with purpose. From gaining real world mentoring from the women of 4 Real Women International, INC (4RWI) while working to empower women both in the US and abroad to meeting and collaborating with influencers that I had long admired from my computer, I pretty much a member of quite a few “squads”. Granted adulting results in people entering different life stages and/or reaching significant milestones at different times that could lead to envy and/or competition, nevertheless, when you meet the right people that is never an issue.
Admittedly with my blog having just turned 2-years old this past January, I do spend most of my time with my blogging-squad, however I do make sure be available should my friends need me in anyway. (Thank goodness for social media because keeping in touch can be tough.) Even with our individual hectic lives we manage to support and look out for each other. We talk about our struggles, honestly criticize when necessary, debate social/world events, celebrate our victories and also share any helpful notes or insights that could be used towards our individual goals. More than anything, I truly appreciate the authenticity of my squad, they are there because they want to be and they will tell you so. For instance, when I struggle to prioritize myself and my goals, they understand where that comes from but they also make the effort to bring me down from my self-imposed isolation (even if I try to convince them that things are “ok”) to talk things out so I won’t implode. Most recently some of them even went so far a to make sure I celebrated my birthday even though I wanted nothing more than to have it go by unnoticed due to feelings of mid-life failure that plagued me since the start of the year.
I consider myself to be very blessed to have the people I call friends in my life. To be honest, if it weren’t for most of them this blog honestly wouldn’t exist. In fact the blog name came from an impromptu brainstorming session with two grad school classmates turned friends at the library and it has only managed to get this far with their continual support. In the end I believe that real “squad goals” should not just be about FOMO-inducing pics for “the gram” or for numbers on Facebook, but the kind of friends who inspire and challenge you to do and be your best. The kind of friends that make a point to remind you every day that you’re beautiful after getting a haircut you don’t like, or push you to take chances with some ideas you only believe to be a “just a crazy idea” to the point that they even take the plunge with you. After all, the right squad can change not only your world but also make history.