My friend is having growing pains.
On the phone she tells me how difficult it has been to make changes in her life without having those changes be at the detriment of some of her friendships.
The activities that once were the basis for those relationships have lost their appeal to her, and she notices it as much as her friends do. She wants to be there without partaking. She wants to be herself with them. It’s not going as well as she’d like.
We talk about how her friends’ reaction to her is about them, not her. How this is always the case in life. How we are mirrors for each other. How comfortable it can be when a person looks into you and sees the same thing. And how uncomfortable it is when you change, and suddenly they look into you and see a different way, a perspective that can threaten their entire concept of self.
In the end, I land back at the realization I’ve discussed so many times here before: the greatest gift we can give each other is the allowance to change.
When we begin a relationship, we cannot know how a person we’re engaging with will evolve over time. But we must accept that they will. Whether major or minor shifts, whether good or bad, we must understand that no being is a complete and finished entity. We are all in progress.
It can be awkward for both sides when one person spearheads a change, it’s true.
When you’re the observer of another’s active evolution, you might find yourself suddenly feeling inferior, as you imagine your habits or techniques or interests seen through the eyes of someone who once shared those facets who has now willingly surpassed them.
When you’re the one leading the change, you might feel self-conscious, might feel yourself being judged.
The bottom line is that both sides find themselves feeling vulnerable, and that isn’t such a bad thing, really. Our vulnerability, and the way we handle it, speaks volumes.
Maybe you’ll realize your friends just can’t hang with your changes and you have to break-up.
Maybe you’ll overwhelm your ego and realize the changes your friend has made for him or herself are positive and beneficial. Maybe you’ll even get inspired to implement good change, yourself.
Maybe you’ll meet now as different people than you were when you first met and find the relationship is no less fulfilling than it ever was.
Maybe you’ll meet as people who have lost common ground and are okay to go their separate ways.
Maybe you’ll just let life flow.
Maybe you’ll just grant others grace.
Maybe you’ll give up mourning what was and step into the dazzling light of what is and what might be.
Maybe you’ll let yourself do what feels right in your spirit-place, and maybe you’ll let others do what’s right for them.
Maybe we’ll all, once and for all, just get over this collective, crippling fallacy about how there is a way it’s supposed to be, or a way we’re supposed to be.
Maybe we could, even for a moment, stop making it all about us. Long enough, at least, to respect what a person may be doing for themselves, without needing to feel threatened (since it has nothing to do with us, anyway).
Maybe today will be the day we show up for ourselves and each other without expectation or judgment, our only armor being the belief that we’re all doing the best we can. Maybe today will be the day you do those things.
And if we learn to let each other be, maybe one day we’ll finally feel free.