LIFE

TOXIC FRIENDSHIPS

‘ The prerequisite for spending time with people is that they will feed your flame’ – Will Smith.

Sometimes I sit and reflect on these words, wishing that I had heard them early last year;  I probably would have avoided the pain and a near-depressing episode. But when I really think about it, everything happens for a reason, you either gain something or you lose. Either way though, valuable lessons are learnt.

In this digital age, we are definitely blessed to have social media platforms which we use to share information as well as show our love and appreciation for those we consider dear to us. We celebrate them on a daily basis for being there with us.. in good times and in bad..in sickness and in health. But as with everything else, we tend to only talk about the good times; avoiding even within ourselves discussing the impact of a toxic friendship.

Its taken me months to begin scrambling out of the dark pit I found myself in after a betrayal I was not in any way prepared for. Now I’ll be honest, I saw ALL the red flags, {and they were plenty}, but as always I choose to see the good in someone and give them fresh slates all while promising myself that it would be the final one. It became a cycle, 1 and a half years, but one that had to be broken eventually.

Some of you may be rolling your eyes saying ‘You could have just stopped being friends.  You should have walked away.’ If only it was that easy. Its not in anyone’s conscience to just up and leave someone who told you they suffer from a mental disorder and has in fact self-harmed in front of you. How do you gather up the strength to ignore your conscience and leave? How do you shut off from their cries for help? How do you walk away, with the thoughts of something going wrong at the forefront of your thoughts? Reality is, you can’t do it, in as much as you may want to.. not at first anyway. You first have to fall so far down the pit of goodwill before realising that the end only comes when you have given everything of yourself and there’s nothing left.

There are some signs to look out for that I’ve picked up along the way, both from this incident and another. Hopefully they may help someone else.

THE SIGNS:

  1. Non-Supportive

Toxic friends will not support anything about you, or if they do it will be half heartedly; as though they’ve been forced

2.   Competitive

Anything you have or want, they’ll for some strange reason get it as well or tend to try get it before you

3. Will always try bring you down

Thing about this one is that it happens so subtly; can easily be brushed off as banter. The worst part is if they touch on your insecurities. This is the absolute red flag for me, any genuine friend should never; not even in a joking way bring up any of the insecurities you felt comfortable discussing with them.

4. Will only be your friend when its convenient for them

They have a problem or are bored? They’ll hit you up even when they know its forcing you to go out of your way.. because you’re the good friend. You have a problem? Yeah deal with it yourself; or even worse try convince you that you’re overreacting and whatever is bothering you is really minor even when its not.

The truth is though, everyone is really just looking out for themselves and they can’t be blamed for that. There are good people out there; sometimes you just have to experience the negative ones so that you can truly appreciate the good ones that come along or have been there the entire time.

IMG_9339

So unrelated, but enjoy this picture of me in my dad’s coat during simpler times.

Standard
LIFE

HOME.

When asked what home is to them, a vast majority of people would respond by saying ‘Its where I live’ – a structure. While that in itself is an answer, it may not be the most accurate response. (Everyone is entitled to their own opinion).

Sometimes, your home in its physical sense is just that, a structure with which you find your shelter from horrible weather, the place you have your own/ shared place on which to lay your head after a long day, it doesn’t feel like how a home should. Instead of providing you with the taste of peace and love, you arrive there just to find a continuation of all the negative energy surrounding you in the outside world.

You may ask, what is home to you then?

The past few months have been quite tough for me. It is in these dark moments that I began my journey HOME. I don’t live with my parents majority of the year and so finding home wasn’t a matter of walking into my parents’ home to plenty of food and drink. It was a matter of finding myself, what I love and what I don’t, figuring out why I was placed on this earth, all while going about my daily life.

I can’t say that I’m home yet, but I’m definitely closer than I was when this year begun. It definitely was thanks to my trying period this year that I realised how far away from home I was. It took life shoving me straight into a storm that helped me open my eyes. When the storm finally began to settle, I decided its time to find my way home.

Some of the few landmarks that have helped me along the way include:

  • Being comfortable with myself – This is something I thought I was okay with but turns out I still need to practice it a bit more. Getting to this point hasn’t been easy; there are days I feel like I’m the sh*t and then proceed to feel completely disgusted with myself the very next day; literally less than 12 hours later. It just happens and its completely normal. As I wrote in a previous post { INSECURITY; IT EATS YOU FROM INSIDE.} sometimes those we think are close to us, can use our insecurities to try bring us down. But when you’re comfortable with yourself and your flaws, keeping in mind that no one is perfect, you won’t let this phase you and hence will be one step closer to being comfortable with yourself.
  • Liberating myself from the ‘group mentality’ – This occurs when individuals act collectively, mostly without sense of direction. I don’t think we realise how easy it can be for anyone to fall into group think; more so with those who may suffer from low self- confidence. Speaking from experience, it begins when you agree to something that deep down know you’d rather not, or when you’re made to feel that something you love isn’t worthy of attention. You’re afraid to speak out, so you just go along with it. Slowly and without realising it, your flame is extinguished and you may no longer see the need of doing what you love. One way of escaping this is learning to speak out, even when you’re afraid to. Practice this often, and eventually it’ll become like second nature to you. Another way is:
  • Spending time with and by yourself. – The best way to discover and understand yourself is to actually spend time alone. Just like you’d go on dates with people to get to know them more, so should you do that with yourself. Despite what society may try make us believe, its not weird to take yourself on dates and enjoy your own company. Most time it is what we truly need. We get to recollect our thoughts and do whatever we feel like without the fear of letting others down or feeling rushed at some place because the other person you’re with just has to get home. Other times, its best to just curl up into a ball, under the bedsheets and watch all the movies we love. One can also choose to sleep, read or catch up on the hobbies that their busy life has been keeping them away from.

‘ We need quiet time to examine ourselves openly and honestly- spending time alone gives your mind an opportunity to renew itself  and create order’- Susan L. Taylor

  •  Finding your outlet – If you’re like me, and I’m sure a good number of you are, opening up is not easy; in fact it may possibly not even be an option. Its not that the people around you aren’t trustworthy; you’ve just secured the position of the strong one/ the one who seems to have their life in order, but you know that thats not necessarily true. That being said, it is very easy to get worn down by the obstacles life throws your way. To avoid breaking down, its important to have some kind of outlet. For me, its the gym. There’s something about pushing beyond my limits and breaking down the barriers my own mind creates that makes it just a little bit easier to breathe. Like I said above, the past few months have been somehow dark, and were getting darker with each passing day. I had taken a break from the gym to go on my volunteering expedition, and things seemed okay because I was distracted and disconnected. Once I was back, everything came rushing back, almost all at once and brought with them new obstacles, I needed to let it out. Getting back to the gym has been painful yes, but I feel lighter, both physically and mentally. I’ve come to appreciate it as my space; I can be distracted but at the same time clear my mind enough to try sort out the things that are bothering me.
  • Knowing your people- You know those people you can be yourself around? The ones who you don’t need to talk to everyday but you’ll always try to be there for one another when need be. Those are the ones you keep close to your heart. Why? Because when you’re around them, you feel at home. Coming back for the holidays has definitely been refreshing for me. I’ve managed to meet most of my people and I can say for a fact that I feel more at peace now than I was before. This is something I noticed after my best friend came visiting last week. Being able to unpack and open up was one thing i didn’t realise I needed. We don’t always have the best responses and in fact may find ourselves with no response to certain situations, but I’ve come to appreciate that someones presence or listening ear may be the one thing you need.
  • Being gentle on yourself–  I’ll just leave this to my KIPEPEO, to explain it here : GENTLE  

In summary what am I saying?

Home, is definitely wherever your heart is. Its with those you hold dear to yourself; be it friends or family. Home however, starts with you. You begin building your home by working on yourself, showing yourself love and doing what excites you. From there you attract those who resonate with you and are willing to help you build and vice versa. However, just like the physical structure, your home will attract those with ill intentions, the ones who will want to bring you down. To prevent that, you definitely need to ensure your barriers are high enough to block them out.

Find yourself, build your home and ensure that you secure it as well. 🙂

Home should feel like the taste of a cold milkshake from Java on a hot day.

Standard
LIFE

TIME, A PRECIOUS GIFT.

I’m really starting to believe the notion that everyone you meet, whoever it is, is destined to have a certain impact in your life; could be intentional or unintentional.

I called an uber to my friend’s house the other night (I was feeling lazy to wait for the bus :D). Now usually I’d prefer to sit in silence and just answer the questions the driver asks plainly and let the conversation end there but not this night, the driver was so intriguing, that I sat in the car a few extra minutes after the ride ended just to listen to him.   I’ll spare you all the details and tell you what I learnt from the conversation:

No job is mediocre. The man has a degree in IT and Computer Science as well as an MBA. He has a business of renting out cars to drivers who then work under Uber or the local taxi services . Any spare time he gets, he’ll go out on the road and work with Uber himself. He gave up working 9-5 because  “If you don’t give your children time today, you can’t complain when they don’t make time for you in the future.”

Reflecting on this made me realise that humans are quite hardworking. However, most of the things we exert our effort in today, are things that are not adding any value to our lives.

It’s so easy for a tomorrow to turn to today and finally into yesterday 

The book I’m currently reading (The Leader Who Had No Title- Robin Sharma) was suggested to me by a good friend, and so far, its managed to help me put a lot of things into perspective.

I’m honestly not one to read the inspirational books you see being displayed quite seductively in bookshops (or those piled up in my mother’s bookshelf) for the mere fact that I believe most of these writers don’t really practice what they preach and are just out to make a quick shilling from vulnerable people. I decided to get this book because, the person who suggested it felt that it would relate to the conversation we were having. (Feel free to borrow mine 🙂 )

To make things a little bit more clearer, the average person has a life span of about 80 years, that’s 960 months, and who told you that you are one of the ‘average’ people? there’s a 50% chance you have less and a 50% chance you have more. However, considering the future is unknown to us all why take the chance?

Having this in mind at all times, could help serve as a motivator for us to get so much more out of our day than we already are. Unfortunately for us a day only 24 hours, which does seem far below what we require to accomplish all the tasks we have. Sadly though, we mere human beings can’t change when day begins or ends. What we can do however, is slowly adjust our daily habits in a way that enables us to be more efficient.

Try waking up an hour earlier than you already do. I know its much easier said than done. However, saving just one hour a day equates to 7 in a week.. meaning that on average you can get up to 30 extra hours a month.

Stop putting things off. You know that class you thought of taking up? Or do you remember that person you wanted to see/call? How about the assignment you have that’s due in a month? If you can do something right now, why would you want to push it to tomorrow? From experience, the only thing tomorrow brings is regret. Do things now and do them well.

Live in the moment. Moving away from, me, unconsciously develop a habit of being obsessed with home. I always wanted to know what was happening and where. This made me miss out on the benefits of where I am for a while.  This despite dad’s constant final words to me before I leave; “When you go, don’t miss us. Go do what you’re supposed to do.” Although it took a while for his message to be delivered, the words hit home and brought along a reality check. I’ve slowly began detaching myself from things beyond my control and focusing on just being present and in the moment. I must admit that although it’s a hard task, it’s very worthwhile as you get to enjoy what you’re doing even more.

Plan your day. This doesn’t mean you plan every second of the day. Just make a mental/physical note of all the activities you have to do for the day beginning with the most important ones. Have a rough estimate of the time you intend to spend on each but don’t be too stressed out if things don’t go as planned, sometimes spontaneity is exciting.

The most important thing I’ve learnt about time is the fact that it’s the most precious gift you can give to anyone so decide at this moment to spend more time with those you love

IMG_E4441

All that was served during this fashion show was my looks. 🙂

Standard
LIFE

SOMETIMES, ITS GOOD TO ESCAPE.

Wherever you go, go with all your heart’ – Confucius

 

It was all too much for me. I needed an escape. Do you know how dangerous it is to be the type of person who keeps things to themselves? Being the kind of person who bears their pearly whites during the day, and breaks down the minute you close your bedroom door, is exhausting in addition to life in general. I decided to escape…plus the trip was free so why not.

Luckily for me, one of my friends agreed to join me..unfortunately for both of us we ended up running late  so 1) We didn’t have breakfast 2) None of us thought to buy snacks or water.. all that was on our mind was getting to the bus on time.. which we did with plenty of time to spare.

Now I’m the kind of person who tends to attract people to myself. Don’t let your mind think too much..let me explain. I’m a listener, I will give people the time they need to vent about something (anything really), complain or even talk about how things seem to be working out pretty well for them. I will listen to everyone, my mum, brothers and friends. Heck if it wasn’t for my apparent “scary” face strangers would be welcome as well. I find that the only person I can vent to although he never appears to be listening 😀 is my dad. He’s a really good listener.

I digress..

My friend is a talker, so she really got to talking the whole bus ride there and it helped, distracted me from my own problems. For the time being anyway.

We were to hike for 7 miles. Now when you’re unfamiliar with certain units of measurements, you can either overestimate or underestimate the exact measurement/distance. I really should have checked because at the end of the day, after going up and down, we had covered a total of 12 kilometres!!!. I used to walk only 10 for Mater Heart run ( I know difference of 2.. I can get really lazy at times…just call my mum to confirm. 072.. 🙂 )

Have a look at some of the pictures:

 

We continued the hike (after buying snacks) with more energy. We became more talkative and even interacted with others in the group for a while. However, in the moments of silence I kept thinking about the issues I was going through.. until I came to a realisation, I was letting my problems take control of my life. 

Here I was, an hour away from my city in a town completely unknown to me and I let my problems follow me; giving them the power of preventing me from seeing and appreciating God’s creation. I then made up my mind, I was going to live in the moment.

Believe me when I said it worked. The simple act of letting go of what I couldn’t change  and deciding to live in the moment was the best decision I made that day.

 

I became carefree, happy. At that moment it was as though I was a new person. I noticed how much cleaner the air was on top of the hills, and didn’t care too much for the mud and puddles that were all over the place. At that moment nothing really mattered except for me. I was putting myself and my needs first by being present.

IMG_0318

About to convince my brother to buy me a new pair of shoes.

4 hours later, when we completed the hike, I was the happiest I had been in a while. I was even happier when we went to a local pub for dinner. 😉 .

IMG_0346

 

I got home that night overwhelmed by lassitude. All I wanted to do was have a warm shower and jump into bed and that is exactly what happened. My problems didn’t bother me again until I was ready to tackle them the following day with a new perspective.

Point is, most times we tend to carry unnecessary weight on our shoulders knowingly or unknowingly. It’s okay and sometimes necessary to escape even for a while. Take a day off or even a week..take as much time as you can and go as far away as you’d like.                                                      Go find yourself first. Learn to love the person you find; your weaknesses as well as your strengths. You’re a masterpiece and you deserve to discover that for yourself.

And when you’re ready, tackle the problem head on. Don’t just bury it deep down and hope for it to disappear because it will manifest itself in a new way.

IMG_0341

 

Standard