Truth - We choose daily who and what we invest our time and energy into. Those choices range from the small moments where we converse politely with cashiers while buying three-ply toilet paper to dropping everything for a friend in need. We choose where we go, who we speak to, and how much energy we spend on them. Those choices deplete us. It's a combination of self-directed rejuvenation and the contributions of others that keep us from constantly being drained. What happens when we fail to recharge ourselves? What happens to our energy?

"Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal."
Albert Camus

We invite people into our lives. We give them permission to be here. We allow them into the sovereign territory that is us. It can be easy to be flippant with who we consent to welcome in to the privacy of our lives and how much. That flippancy though can go from misguided to problematic for the sake of our own well-being. Sometimes selfishness is necessary for self-preservation. In other words, we must always, always, always, choose ourselves first - above all else. When we give to others the entirety of all that we are, without regard to reserving enough to save ourselves, we put ourselves in precarious situations. Subsequently, in those dire times of exasperation, we become useless to everyone, including ourselves. We must be bold, and wise in our declarations of self-love, self-appreciation, and self-forgiveness. We have to be unabashed about loving ourselves enough to respect our bodies, minds, hearts, souls, and spirits. We have to be unrelentingly in ensuring that we take care of ourselves so that we can take care of others if/when they need us. We have to be unapologetic about taking time, energy, and space for ourselves to be replenished. Our energy is just that ... our energy. We are not obligated to give our all, just our best, to others.

We live in an odd juxtaposition of societal ideals. We live in arguably a highly individualistic society and yet we value altruism, service, and sacrifice immensely. While the two may seem diametrically opposed, there are ways to overcome the implicit competing conflict therein. Accountability, responsibility, and intentionality - know those words, and use them as often as one needs. How do we hold ourselves and others accountable for the energy we expend? People ask us to go above and beyond constantly and yet we can be so stubborn to ask for the smallest things for ourselves. We are permissive. We let people take from us without the expectation of reciprocation. Of course it is right to give for the sake of giving but we are naïve to believe that anything we give does not give us some semblance of self-serving satisfaction - and that's okay. What's not okay is this idea that healthy relationships can be based on anything other than a mutual expenditure/regeneration. We are responsible for our behaviors and actions, and the precedent they set for others in their interactions with us. Our intentionality when it comes to giving out and taking in energy makes all the difference.

It cannot be emphasized enough how important it is to have people in your life that energize you. It's the people that you can rely on to bring you up, the ones who have meaningful dialogue that is a true back and forth, and the ones that give just as much as they take. When you leave their presence you feel enlivened or when you are totally spent, you still feel good, appreciated, and valued by them. We need positive people who uplift, challenge, and comfort us. That second one is most important. Having people in our lives that we have built trusting relationships with to the point where they can check us, humble us, and bring us back to reality is critical. Knowing that they sincerely care about us and our well-being gives us the courage to take their critique to heart. We need people who will be genuine with us to help us be better version of ourselves. We want people to teach us, to strengthen us, and to expand our perspectives. Know that not everyone who tries to be part of our lives gets to be there, needs to be there, or will be there permanently. We balance our openness with a thoughtful selectivity. We prioritize our personhood over the need to please/be liked/save others. Save yourself. Save your energy.

It goes without saying and yet it's imperative to say it - release anyone from your ranks who takes energy but cannot be bothered to share any of theirs, who gets what they need from you and disappears, and who tears you down with no intention of building you back up. Nobody needs toxic, trivializing, and trifling people in their lives. You deserve better than to be exploited, undermined, and demeaned by anyone especially someone who would have the audacity to consider themselves your friend. Criticism should never be cruel. Advice does not come with antagonism. Gratitude must be grievance-free. Assess, challenge, and confront - you have to know your self, your stressors, and your expenditures. If anyone is an energy repeat offender with overdrafting withdrawals, puts you in debt, or bankrupts your sense of self, those are clear signs that your connection to you needs to evaluated. It's one thing to call people in to conversation to let them know how they have not shown up for you, taken you for granted, and ignored you, and another for those in question to make demonstrable action to be more present. It is another for people to invalidate your feelings and dismiss them. Let them go. Let. Them. Go. Unfriend, delete, and remove them from every facet of your life. They are not worth your time, energy, or effort. They do not deserve your friendship. They have not earned your trust.

Breaking up with friends can be terrifying but in the grand scheme of things it can be truly insignificant. We are surrounded by people and yet only know a tiny fraction of them, and even that amount is debatable. Our fear of losing the return on our investment into another person pales in comparison to what's at stake by allowing our self-worth, esteem, value - everything, to be embezzled by imposters masquerading as friends. We are more than worth it. We are all we have. We are everything. We owe it to ourselves. We owe it to our "friends" - who need to be made aware of how they show up (or better yet, don't) with us. We have to choose ourselves, each and every day we can. That choice in us is something no one can ever take away. Hold that close and cherish it because our human spirit is wrapped up in that agency. Relish in knowing that acquaintances can abound but friends who will covet the invaluable truth of who we are will be scare - and that is best. Hold on to those who fill us back up, make us feel warm, and shine light on us. The way people and the way we ourselves understand our relationships to be can drastically different. Our baseline of dignity, grace, and respect has to start somewhere. X


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