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Being worthy of friendship


Birthdays are a time for reflection and celebration. I was fortunate mine began, continued and ended with people who are important to me. I connected with them in-person, on the phone, via text and online. Many call the same city home as I do but some messages were from half way around the world. Its powerful to feel support and love originate from so many places.

But with the outpouring of kind words and the time people spend with me on and around such a day, can bring about another narrative. As Brené Brown stated in understandable terms, the internal monologue of, "not good enough" can begin to play in my head. I am beyond fortunate to be surrounded by the people I have in my life, but there are moments I allow myself to feel unworthy of them or fear I am asking too much.

The first waking hours of my birthday began at 6 AM at the yoga studio. At the conclusion of class, I found myself wrapped up in an enjoyable and wandering conversation that moved across many topics. But as the discussion moved on, the tape that started to play in my head was, "You should really get going. You've been here too long after class ended." There were no verbal or non-verbal cues from the teacher which told me this, I merely elected to arrive at that conclusion and worried I was being a burden.

Since my birthday fell on a Monday, I elected to celebrate over the weekend with close friends at the Casa Loma Ballroom. So on the actual night itself, a Monday, my plan was to either

  1. Head home and reheat leftovers or

  2. Take myself out for a nice birthday meal if I felt up for it

As the day wore on, I was feeling rather upbeat so I decided dinner and drinks out would be nice. As I worked through three potential locations in my head: Olio, Taste, and Juniper, I polled a friend to ask where I should go. Taste was the definitive response.

Before long, she offered to meet up for a bit and buy me a birthday drink. Her offer to tag along was kind but I suddenly felt self-conscious. I hadn't meant to change her evening plans. Had I put her in that position by asking for a suggestion in the first place? We met up around 5:30 and quickly fell into great conversation. It ended up being a great way to spend part of my birthday evening. But as the night wore on, I found myself thinking again, "Probably time to wrap things up. She's been here way longer than the one drink she offered and now you're just taking up her night."

As we said our goodbyes later that night, we had a great moment in our friendship I intend to remember as I invest in others too. She admitted after asking if we might meet up for a bit, she grew concerned she had inadvertently crashed my birthday diner. Meanwhile, as I alluded to above, a growing struggle for me as the night wore on was wanting to make sure she felt like she was free to go when ready. This candid admission on both our parts was an important reminder to me friendship is not voluntary and therefore should be cherished and not downplayed. When I assume* my friends are looking to bail out from hanging with me, I cheapen the connection we have built and time we are spending together. I place them in the category where they have something they'd rather be doing even though they chose through freewill to be a part of it. Whereas if I was with them on their birthday, I wouldn't be planning on anything else. I need to honor their friendship the same way they honor mine.

To all my friends, thank you for being a part of my journey. I look back fondly on the past and am excited for the future.

With love,

Chris

* "When you assume, you make an ASS out of U and Me" Mrs. Roberts, my 7th grade teacher


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