This year hasn’t been the easiest, if I’m being honest.
My mental health has been a roller coaster, and so has my weight. My confidence took a nosedive when I put on a few pounds, and that insecurity trickled into a lot of other things, causing all sorts of problems.
My marriage, my job, my social life…yeah. Suffice it to say, this has been one helluva year.
Can I blame Trump? I feel like I can.
Well, either way. It is what it is. I’m looking forward to a shiny, clean start on New Year’s Day when I’m sure to finally get my proverbial shit together. Next year, my marriage will be perfect, my mood will be perpetually sunny, and I’ll kick butt at my job. But resolutions aside, I can’t flush the last 12 months down the toilet just yet. Even though they stink, there are lessons to be learned from every crappy season in life.
2017 has hurt like hell, but I’m still gleaning wisdom from all of it.
You’ve probably heard it said that “every cloud has a silver lining.” I’ve always loved that saying because it gives me hope that I can make a purpose out of all of my pain. I’m not completely on the other side of this struggle yet, but I can say with certainty that I have found at least one silver lining in the cluster that was my last year.
You see, even though the process was hard and incredibly humbling, I have finally figured out how to let myself be loved. I have learned that sometimes, it really is okay to be a needy friend. To really lean into the people I trust the most.
Let me explain.
I’ve always prided myself on being a strong person. You know, the friend who pours into other people’s cups? That was me. I relished being an optimist, a life giver, an emotional supporter. There is nothing in the world as wonderful as loving someone when they need it most. It feels better to give than receive, right?
Yes. And sometimes that’s the problem.
You see, it doesn’t always feel good to be a taker. Sometimes it’s embarrassing. Sometimes it can make us feel weak or guilty. It doesn’t feel good to be needy. It’s extremely humbling.
But how can we expect to pour into another person’s cup when ours is bone-dry? How can we give life to everyone around us when we feel like the stump in the Giving Tree?
Spoiler alert: We can’t.
Friendship, it turns out, is a two-way street. Sometimes the hardest thing in the world is to allow yourself to be that needy friend. To be humble enough to say, “Hey, y’all, I’m not doing so well. I could use a little support right now.”
This year, I have learned that it’s okay to allow myself to be a needy friend. And you know what else? In the process of humbling myself and owning my insecurities and struggles, my friendships have only grown stronger because true friends don’t expect you to be strong all of the time. They love you for who you are, messes and all. True friends relish the opportunity to love a friend in need. They don’t resent giving support to a struggling loved one.
And my God, if they did, would they really be the kind of friends you’d want to keep around?
I’m going to let you in on a little secret: Being needy doesn’t last forever. Life isn’t always roses, but it isn’t always crappy either. Life is cyclical. We will all go through phases where we are more mentally and emotionally needy than our friends. We will all have our days when our cups are empty and in need of a refill.
But in time, we will return to the days when our cups are overflowing. We will once again have enough joy to go around. There will come a day when you don’t feel like a stump anymore. When you feel like an entire tree, and you don’t mind extending your branches over a buddy in need of some shade.
Folks, there are seasons when we are the takers, and seasons when we are the givers. It is truly okay to be a needy friend. If you are wary, let your friends know. Give them a chance to love you well.
The time will certainly come when you will return the favor.