Recently, I saw a post on Instagram from the Love Yourself Foundation discussing reflections on relationships with our loved ones. That post gave me the idea to write about relationships as the topic affects me profoundly.
Everyone will encounter some kind of relationship in their lifetime. Whether it’s a relationship with your family, friends, and/or significant others, no one can avoid it. When people come into our lives, they can either strengthen or break you. The thing is, though, it’s really your choice if you let them empower or destroy you.
Throughout this piece, I will mention some nameless folks that I either speak with regularly or no longer have any contact with and what they did just to give you an idea of where I’m coming from. Because of them, they influenced me to be the person I am today. Plus, whether they know it or not, their actions showed me what kind of people I should or should not be spending time with.
My Encounter With Past Friendships
Do you know the saying “friends come and go?” During my childhood, I learned that the hard way. In elementary school, I had two best friends. They were smart, kind-hearted, and valued their friendships with me.
As we approached middle school, I started to lose contact with one of them. This person and I developed different interests, spent more time with other people, and started to outgrow each other. Our friendship was no longer valued and without saying anything, we went our separate ways. Little did I know that that incident started to become a recurring lesson to me about relationships.
After that, I remained close to my remaining best friend. Throughout all of middle and high school, we would congregate once in a while to catch up on things. We grew and had other friends, but that didn’t put a hole in our friendship (at that time). Sadly, future complications tested our friendship.
When I reunited with my best friend in college, I started to notice some changes in both of us. We were 18-year-olds who had differing opinions about mostly everything. It’s normal to deal with this, but then things begin to sour.
Without revealing what exactly happened, I found myself wanting to spend more time with fellow film and journalism students as we were learning everything about our fields. They provided a sense of happiness for me as I contemplated the future with my best friend.
Then it became clear to me that our evolving personalities were continuing to separate us. Because of that, life became different. I thought all those years we would stay together as friends but this is another example of friends coming and going. Because of our contrasting mannerisms and newer friendships (from both sides) playing a role, it was best to part ways.
I didn’t realize this until I reached my early twenties that people change and have different priorities. I was hurt but accepted the fact that letting some people go is the right thing to do, even if I knew those people since my childhood. Changes are necessary if you want to revise your atmosphere. Believe me, after that friendship ended, it became clear to me that I needed to look at how friendships operate better in order for me to mature properly.
Building Better Friendships
From these past friendships came a resilient individual. Although I comprehended that growth is a continuous thing, I had a hard time accepting the changes that my former friends made. I wasn’t mature enough to handle it but when I started making changes in my life, that’s when I got it.
As much as I enjoy being around like-minded people, that doesn’t mean it will always be that way. As a result, I found myself debating if being with them is even worth it anymore. If that person is respectful, open-minded, caring, and honest despite our differences, then I wouldn’t let them go.
Plus, think about you. Maybe you could be the problem and not them. Not everyone will acknowledge that so they blame the other person, but if you want to be the smarter one here, then look at both sides.
If you sense that that person is toxic around you, then that’s a red flag. I experienced this multiple times before and knew that the friendship had to end. Since then, it was a better choice as I needed to clear out the fumes in my brain. Plus, there were times where I didn’t even realize that I was a toxic person, but now that I admitted my problems, I’m currently fixing the issue, thanks to family and friends I spoke with.
Although I enjoyed most of my time with those friends before we broke up, I will say that I do not wish to be with those kinds of people again. I learned a lot from them through their temperaments and how they treated me and that gave me the ability to choose who I should or should not be with at all.
Currently, I am applying what I learned from the past and felt a lot more at peace. The people I am with now are better role models to me, and thinking about it, it feels like I met them at the right place at the right time.
I firmly believe that friends come and go. It’s up to us if we want to keep them but if it’s not worth it anymore, then it’s time to move on. Remember to take in the fact that it takes a team for a friendship to work. If you happen to be doing all the work (i.e., take the initiative to ask them if they want to spend time together), and they don’t even see what you’re doing, then don’t bother either. I made the mistake of thinking that if I did my part and expected my friend to do theirs, it’s a bad assumption. Not everyone has the same heart as mine so I turned my attention to someone who really needs me.
I feel bad that some past relationships didn’t last, but in the end, both of us needed to be free. I can only wish the best for them in their lives and hope that they find peace one day. I’m glad that they were in my life to show me who they were as it gave me the ability to do the same, but as a result, I learned to never be like them. People deserve better, and I want to be the kind of person who treats someone right.
Even though my previous experiences were not the best, this situation will only motivate me to keep searching for my true friends. And to be clear, with the friends that I have right now, I know that I am going in the right direction.
What I Learned From My Family-Friends
Unlike friendships, my relationship with family-friends have been smooth, for the most part. My family-friends gave me the opportunity to learn and understand the value of how spending time with them leads to memories worth cherishing.
Growing up in LA, I dined out with my family and family-friends and talked about anything. Food brought us together when our opinions differed but the amount of love we have for one another drew us closer.
I had a loved one who watched me grow until I finished college. This individual was the kind of person who would be a listening ear whenever I wanted to talk; they would help my family out when they needed it, and they would check up on us to see how we’re doing. They went on vacations with us, attended baseball games and even watched a concert with me.
Looking back on that relationship, I realized they left a lasting impression on me. One lesson I learned from them was to judge less. Every time I spoke with them on the phone and would tell them some things I did, they never questioned my choices or chastised me for doing the wrong thing. I really respected them for being like that and as a result, I vowed to take that lesson with me.
But the biggest lesson I learned from them, sadly, is to never take people for granted. If I have the chance to talk or see somebody again then I’ll contact them right away. We’re here today but some of us aren’t promised tomorrow. I hear this message all the time, but when I lost this loved one, the message really struck me. As a result, I keep thinking about them and know now to not pass any opportunities to contact my loved ones again.
Another family-friend taught me the following lesson: when there’s a chance, let the people closest to you know how important they are in your life. Recently, my family and I went out with them for a bite to eat as a thank you for fulfilling a favor. After I dropped them off at their house, they made it clear that they really had a good time and enjoyed the company.
Hearing stuff like this makes me happy to know that we’re making a positive impact on them. I really appreciate their kindness as it makes me want to spend time with them again in the near future. When we let someone know how we feel, at least that person is aware. It’s a lot better than holding it in and waiting for the right time because we don’t know if that could be the last time we see them.
Whether they know this or not, they gave me a good example of who I should be with in my life. I’m glad that I have good relationships with them, and I’m grateful that I learned how to do the right thing.
Lessons From My Parents
My parents played an integral role in my development from infancy to adulthood. Throughout my life, I learned everything they taught me as I started to understand what life is. Among the many things my parents stressed to me, the ones that stood out to me were being respectful, grateful, spending lots of time with family, modesty, independence, common sense, and remembering who I really am and where I came from.
They also inspired me to work hard. When I was a toddler, my family owned a business. When they operated it, they would take extra care into making sure that things operated appropriately. Because of that, they were able to put food on the table, pay their bills, and show me the importance of being responsible. When I heard stories of when and how they worked, it only made me want to do the same thing. What they did really inspired me to pursue the American dream.
I have a unique and special relationship with both of my parents. I learned from loved ones around me that sons prefer to be with their mothers, while daughters choose to be with their fathers. But with me, I chose to be close to my mom and dad. They loved me unconditionally, and as a result, I learned that lots of love, care, and affection towards each other leads to a positive environment in the house.
When my dad worked at his business, I spent a lot of time with my mother. When he came back, I moved my attention to him. After my dad passed away, my relationship with my mother deepened. It’s hard enough that we lost a loved one in the family but his passing caused us to come closer. Spending more time with my mom than ever before is a big priority to me. We relied on each other for moral support and never let anything bad get in our way. If a problem arises, we focus on solving it together.
I’m grateful to have a mom like my own. She remained resilient and displayed acts of perseverance that encouraged me to do the same whenever I encountered any hardships. She showed that in the wake of my father’s death.
As I write this article, I’m coming to terms with the fact that my relationship with my parents is stronger than with my family-friends and friends. It makes sense, though, because they were there when I was born. I lived with them all of my life. They raised me to be the daughter I am now. I owe it to them that they taught me what I needed to know in life. I’m truly blessed to have the best parents in the world.
I’m glad that I’ve been able to meet a lot of people and learn more about them. I learned a lot of lessons from each relationship I have/had. They were good lessons in helping me shape my overall personality. I’m grateful that I still keep in touch with those who made a positive impact on my life. Because of these folks, I am happy to say that my life is better when they’re around.
If you haven’t spoken to someone in a while, now is the chance to reach out. There’s no point in waiting. Don’t postpone it because that’s your heart telling you that this may be your only chance. You will be thankful later.
Who knows? Maybe that someone you’re thinking about is also thinking of you too but just hasn't had the chance to communicate with you. It wouldn’t hurt to make the first move.
And finally, when you finish reading this article, please take the time to reflect on your relationships and think about how they got you to where you’re currently at. You may not realize this until now, but you would be surprised as to how much of an influence your loved ones are/were to you.
So, when was the last time you thought about your relationship with your loved ones? Is there anyone who inspired you to be who you are today? Comment below.
About the Author:
Ashley Lee is an alumna of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas where she obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Film with a minor in Journalism and Media Studies. She is a freelance filmmaker and journalist who enjoys traveling, audio production, volunteering at local nonprofits, writing, photography, and spending time with her family. Lee is also a co-host of a local Las Vegas podcast.