I read an article about friendship that ranked people into friends, kindred spirits, persons I know and like, and acquaintances (thanks Phidelia!). “Friend” is probably the most default word on my tongue when I describe most people but reading that article set things into perspective and it gave me permission to rearrange, and rank my people.
I don’t like peddling the “hater” narrative or the narrative that prescribes building up walls against people that don’t believe in you or are set to harm you. I don’t think that that’s the healthiest use of my time. I do believe in the safety narrative. Safety for me feels like an exhale. It feels like the room to evolve, to adapt, to study, to learn, and to serve my friends.
A litmus test for me is how I feel when I think about them, is there a stillness there or does it feel like I have to gear up? Am I safe enough to be who I am now or am I trapped in a time capsule I’ve grown out of? How much of myself am I allowed to bring in? Will I have to sift and measure and evade certain things for my safety?
What are the consequences of their words on me? Do I have to explain things to myself over and over again why they said certain things? Does it feel like they brought dusty shoes into my clean house and walked everywhere leaving me with a verbal mess in their absence? Am I handled with care? How am I carried?
Do I need to only perform pain and trauma, or am I allowed to celebrate too? Do they ask about things that make me laugh, or make me cry in a good way? Or do they hunt for the wound to dive into, just to feel needed? Do they explore our different lived experiences to learn about me and show up for me or are they just entertained by it?
Is their presence an engulfing one, leaving zero room for me, or can we fellowship together? Do I hold my breath till they drop the call or leave? Do I feel empty, drained, or filled? Do I think about the time with them and smile and even thank them? This is how I know who gets to come in and who gets to stay.