I tend to think of myself as a bit of a loner. While I am talkative and bubbly and easy to get to know, I hold my true feelings close to my chest and say very little of substance unless prodded for the truth. But I do a really good job of pretending. What that looks like in execution is that I am everyone’s best friend. I am literally the best friend you will ever have. I tend to go above the call of duty because my assumption is that if I do everything right and never fall short that will make people love me. And it does. It’s worked for years. From a strictly unbiased perspective this has been my life.
But a year ago, I started to think about who was my best friend; who would I call if I had a flat tire or a rough day or whose sofa would I crash on if I got into a fight with my husband. And I drew a blank. But then I thought of the number of people who would call me if any of the above happened to them and instantly I had a list of over 20 people. And you know what, some of that is my own fault.
I make it my mission in life to put my best foot forward, to only let people see me at my best, to only show my face when I am happy. As a woman in this world, particularly as a black woman, we don’t exactly have a lot of space to emote. There is no prize for vulnerability. To be less than graceful and gracious is a sin, and god forbid you express negative emotions like anger and grief. So I stored those emotions away even from those closest to me. People who I knew like the back of my own hand but knew nothing about me.
I was the no must, no fuss bride. The “it’s okay you forgot my birthday” friend. The you-don’t-need-to-call-me-regularly daughter. I was hiding parts (read: gaping geysers) of myself from people and in turn, could not hold people accountable for how I wanted to be treated because they didn’t know how I wanted to be treated.
So this year, the goal was “openness”. Every year, I chose a word, a part of my personality that I want to be working on. This year was openness. I would work on being vulnerable, exposing myself a little more to family, to the friends who have known me for twenty years, to my husband but to work friends and even to myself.
There is something to be said about vulnerability and letting people learn you after so much time. That sort of exposure has been difficult and muddy and hard to navigate through especially in the face of not explaining to people why they are suddenly getting a lot more information about me than they’re use to. But I want to be known. I want the people in my life to know my heart as well as I know theirs. I want to be able to hold people accountable for how they love me and that starts with holding myself accountable for letting them. So my word for 2018 is not just openness but accountability.