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Friendship Lessons

This year marks 21-years that I've been a mother to my only daughter, Bria. Every juncture has been more amazing than the last. My daughter is intelligent, beautiful, creative, compassionate, and very out-spoken. To see a being that comes from you take on their own life is a wonderful experience. I made sure to nurture relationships within our immediate family and friends so it was natural to see her engage with them. However, I do feel that some social skills lacked when it came to her inter-personal skills outside of those people. For the most part, it's always been just the two of us - going through life loving and creating great memories with each other. Sure she had friends; but very little time was spent with them one-on-one outside of school and extracurricular activities prior to middle school. For a time, she had two friends and they were inseparable. But we all know the hormones and attention span of teenage girls. Eventually, they went their separate ways; new schools, new interests, new friends, and YES, boyfriends. By the time she was heading to college she was a one-woman show. I wasn't concerned. I knew that she would adapt well. Her first year at Morgan State University was great, everyone was new and trying to find themselves. Second year she hooked up with a familiar face from elementary school and they just had to be roommates. That was over before it began - resulted in a fight and a broken friendship. Later down the line they talked about it and went their separate ways with no hard feelings. I honestly believe this was a turning point in her socially. She began to dislike school and complained about everything. I knew that this was a pivotal teaching moment. The only thing they had in common was that they already knew each other. That proved just because you know somebody doesn't mean you know them and can live with them. Both were different people from grade school and had not kept in touch. They were just as much strangers to each other as anyone else on campus. It was a lesson that needed to be learned. I say this because I do not believe in accidental encounters with people - new or old. We are put here to interact with each other if only for the moment to get the lesson. You are either reminded of why you left or why you never want to leave again.

The following year she decided to sit out of school to gather herself. During this time she befriended new people that seemed to have the same interests and birthdays days apart. This meant fun, fun, fun; especially being of legal age to get into clubs and just enjoy life as a young adult. This run was fast and short-lived. I had the opportunity to observe them out of town and it was not good. It was there that I learned how much they discussed one another, to each other. Whether you call it venting, gossiping or talking behind the persons back I had no understanding of it and I definitely let them know how I felt. There were accounts of favoritism, twisting the story, and theft. Way too much for a 6-day trip and I believe this was on day 3. But we carried on and had a marvelous trip.

They blatantly had no regard and respect for each other and they were not being good friends at all. Several months went by and various things happened, the talk continued and everything exploded. The friendships are severed and life is still moving forward. My daughter and I discuss EVERYTHING, about everything and she gets to hear the raw truth from me. If she's wrong, I'll be the first to tell her. So if I happen to peruse on her Twitter, Instagram or Facebook pages and see immature and petty posts I'm quick to pull her up. Technology has created a space of open dialogue where you can talk about aka sneak diss each other. However, not everyone takes it as is and let it go. Actual altercations have ensued because of 'sneak dissing.' The greatest problem I have is that we encounter numerous people in real life and cyber life; who said that what I posted is even about you?! Now we are entangled in a war of words, threats, and fights because someone got mad at the other for doing the exact same thing that they are doing - SNEAK DISSING!

Yet again, my daughter rises to the occasion magnificently. She accepted her responsibility, acknowledged what she could have done differently so that she can apply it to future relationships. I told her not to fret. She will meet many more people along the way. The intentions in the beginning of all of the relationships were good, they just ended badly. It's not the end of the world for any of them. As they mature they will learn to be more decisive in choosing friends. If the conversations, actions, values, and goals do not align then they may not be the people to include in your space. I had to get her focused on the bigger picture. As a young adult pursuing higher education, employment where her criminal background matters, and many entrepreneurial ventures - it's not a good idea to jeopardize long-term, future goals for short-term, right now people.

Hopefully this chapter is behind everyone so that they can all go off to do great things in their lives and be better people and friends. The past two weeks has been eye-opening for the both of us. Social media was used as a vehicle to expose and shed light. The actions and words that are said once you are no longer friends is a reflection of what was felt when you were friends. If you were really friends, there should be nothing negative spewed for the world to see. This behavior also allows others to see your loyalty and character in a storm. If you did it to that person then what will keep you from doing it to the next? Either say it face-to-face and be done or keep it to yourself.

The truth of the matter is, we all talk about people in some way; including friends and family that are close to us. We're typically telling stories that involve ourselves or using others situations as an example. Majority of the time there is no malicious intent. It's no way that we will never share stories with others. The problem is how others tell the story and how the receiver perceives the atonement and premise of the story when it gets back to them. As humans, we will always tell the story in our favor. But the other party has to not react in emotion and reflect on what they genuinely know about the other person. There is always a common denominator to factor in. Take notice of when people tell you things. If it's one thing that I've learned in my day and that's open ears are on the same face as open mouths. They participated in the conversation as well.

I live by the adage, people come into your life for a reason, season, or lifetime. Every relationship has an expiration date. It doesn't have to be a nasty dispute. They have served their purpose and it's now time to close the chapter. We encounter people until the day of our demise, and most were pleasant experiences. Hopefully the friendship lessons learned brings at least one true friend for a lifetime.

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