I recently drove from Texas to Florida with my best friend. Normally I would caution anyone and everyone to skip the monotonous drive and hop on a plane, but on this occasion I recommend enduring the 16 hours while listening to a healthy mixture of ScHoolboy Q, the Dixie Chicks and an audio book. From the long stretch of Texas to “Gator’s One Stop” in Mississippi, all the way to Daytona, up until I hopped on the plane and headed home, I was reminded of why Jenne is my best friend.
I sat on the plane and said to myself, “I just left my person in Florida for 6 whole weeks.. what do I do when I need to cry? Where do I go when I just need someone to go to sonic with me because it’s been a bad day, it’s after 8pm and milkshakes are ½ price?”
I hadn’t realized how much I depended on my friend until I couldn’t anymore. Coming from someone who is extremely independent, that would normally freak me out a little bit. I do not like to need people. I do not like to feel like I cannot do something on my own, but time and heartbreak have proven that there are some mountains in life that you need help climbing.
Rewind to being in Florida. It was my second to last night there and Jenne and I were sitting at Bubba Gumps enjoying our usual kids meal. We talked and laughed about how I had a beer with my kids meal, about boys, and all other “normal” topics best friends cover at dinner. That is all on top of everything we talked about on hour 16-hour car ride because I drank a huge red bull before we hit the road and let’s face it that will keep you up for 36 hours easily. Though those conversations are held in truth, what came next was nothing but pure, unadulterated honesty.
I got on a soap box about the kind of woman I want to be.
If you know me even a little bit you know that I am a passionate person. I want to live life with gusto. My heart is almost always on my sleeve and I will not apologize for it. There in Daytona Beach I rambled on and on and on about how I want to be strong, self-reliant, kind and courageous. I want to leave a footprint in this world because there are some things that are so important that we cannot, and should not, be quiet about them.
Women’s empowerment (and mens. Go men!). The importance of self worth. Being gentle with yourself and others. Why people are more than the words you give them. These are the things I will not silence myself on.
And silent I wasn’t.
I poured out my hopes and dreams right there to someone who not only listened to every word, but who loves the heart that is behind the words.
This. Is. Huge.
I dated someone for a while who never listened to me. Do you know how absolutely frustrating that is?
“So this is what I did today”* Stares at the video game in front of him*
“I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately and…” *Once again stares at the video game in front of him*
After that ended I told myself that never again would I spend copious amounts of time with people who do not care what I did that day or do not want to hear about my heart.
Support is important. I want to be a strong woman but I cannot be that without courage. Author Rene Brown shows a different side of courage in her book I Thought It Was Just Me: Women Reclaiming Power and Courage in a Culture of Shame.
“Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is cor – the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” Over time, this definition has changed, and today, we typically associate courage with heroic and brave deeds. But in my opinion, this definition fails to recognize the inner strength and level of commitment required for us to actually speak honestly and openly about who we are and about our experiences — good and bad. Speaking from our hearts is what I think of as “ordinary courage.”
Reading that continues to excite me. How simple it seems to have audacious courage in the face of our insecurities and misgivings. Yet without someone fighting alongside us saying, “It’s okay to be honest about who you are” it is not simple. It’s hard. It’s really, really hard. People are not always going to like what we have to say. They may not agree with what we stand for. Sometimes they flat out just might not like us. That’s okay, too. Besides, they’re not always going to “get it” as I have said before.
There are so many different things that my friends have taught me that have helped shape me into the confident person that I am today but there are a few that I find particularly important:
Stand up for yourself. I went through most of my life with the “some battles aren’t worth fighting” mentality. Or I thought that I did. Really I lived as if most battles weren’t worth fighting as long as it came down to me having to confront people that were mean to me or had wronged me. After hearing “Lauren, you really need to learn to stand up for yourself” enough times it clicked. (CC: Mallory and Britney) I finally got it and let me tell you it feels really awesome to look at someone who’s being an asshat and tell them that they can talk. To. The. Hand. Or whatever the kids are saying these days.
Appreciation is medicine for the soul. How satisfying is it to have people that tell you how much you mean to them? Appreciation helps us to be strong and courageous even when we are low. Having friends come beside you and say, “Thanks for being my rock” is like a spoonful of sugar. We need gratitude. It’s fuel. It’s life-giving. It let’s us know that the phrase that we all learned in grade school, “If you want a friend, be a friend”, is actually worth remembering.
People share because they care. The quote I used by Brene Brown I first heard in a TED talk on vulnerability that Meghan sent me the link to. Obviously I loved it. Obviously she knew that I would and that I needed to hear it. Having friends who know what you need when you need it is another kind of medicine in itself. They come over with ice cream (or take you to get margaritas since we are adults now) when you are crying because growing up is just really hard, okay? They tell you to woman up because it’s not cute to be petty (and hey, we are working on being kind). They send you funny pictures because they know that you’re going to appreciate them just as much as they do. It’s people like this that make me want to be strong because they deserve that to be shared with them.
If something or someone is toxic, run as fast as you can but it’s okay people will still love you even if you’re kind of speed walking (Ok maybe sitting on the couch still). We all have our vices, but stronger is the bond of our friends. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard “Lauren, you deserve better than that” or “Lauren, it’s time to let that go” and I did not listen. Still here I am writing a post about how thankful I am for my friends. They give me their strength when I do not have my own.
So go on that road trip. Drive the 16 hours. See what you find at dinner with your best friend. Be grateful. Be honest. Be strong.