Who does your tribe consist of? Whether it’s made up of mainly childhood friends from your old stomping grounds or your college roommates that you met at such a pivotal time in your life, they’re your homies. Most importantly, they’ve got your back through thick and thin. However, the real question is, do you have theirs? With shows like HBO’s Insecure and Amazon Prime’s Harlem centering Black friendships in all of their glory, one must ensure that they’re modeling these same behaviors in their personal life. If you’ve been swooning at Issa and Molly’s support of one another in this current season of Insecure, you should be making sure that your friends in real life feel that same level of bolstering from you, especially in recent years as we attempt to make our way out of a global pandemic that’s going on it’s second year.
At this point, life before the COVID-19 pandemic seems like a blur for many of us. Since the world stopped in March 2020 with quarantines being imposed all around the world, you may have noticed that a multitude of changes have occurred. Outside of the obvious mask mandates and social distancing, you may have peeped changes in your friends. That one friend who made it a point to drop everything to be everything for everyone around them isn’t doing that anymore. That other friend who used to check in with you frequently to ensure you’re meeting your goals is no longer your accountability partner. Does that mean they aren’t your friends anymore? Not at all. It just means that they’ve changed in innumerable ways after this exhaustive journey and need a little bit of grace as they get their life together—just like you’d want for yourself.
If it’s one thing that we need to constantly spread more of in our respective friend groups, it’s grace. Since the pandemic started, Black people in particular have gone through a personal reckoning in which the vast majority of us have shed the skin of our previous lives and uncovered new identities that align more with who we are. In turn, this may affect the way that we show up for our friends or rather fail to. And that’s okay. Support for our comrades looks different in a COVID-19 world. That support needs to include the grace of understanding that everyone is shouldering the effects of this pandemic along with other personal struggles. That being said, we must give grace to one another as this is a perilous journey for each and every one of us. On the alternative, instead of chastising our tribe for not showing up for us, how can we show up for them?
Oftentimes, many of us fall down the rabbit hole of expecting the grace that we refuse to give to others. During these moments, it’s important to not only realize your friends are fighting their own battles but how you can be a pillar of support so that they don’t have to fight them alone. While the act of selfishness may not be intentional during these times, we should work towards practicing selflessness. Think about all of the times you walked down a harrowing path with obstacles galore and how your friendship circle had your back like none other. Now, think about all of the times they did the same and you (should’ve) had their backs. If the former outweighs the latter, there needs to be some self-reflection on how you can better show up. Showing up doesn’t always have to look the same, either. It could be a simple phone call, lunch date, errand run etc. Whatever showing up looks like for you, just make sure that you do it. Your friends may be depending on it. One should also be in the habit of holding friends accountable—a form of support that can sometimes be understated.
There is a great deal of individuals who feel that accountability has to be this big, scary monster, but it isn’t. When you decide to hold those around you accountable for their actions, it shows them that you love and support them enough to make sure they don’t make harmful decisions. When we co-sign every decision our friends make, even to their detriment, it sends a clear message that we don’t care about them. That’s the last message we should want to convey.
As the holidays approach and we quickly shuffle our way into 2022, please find time to check in with your tribe. Ask them if they feel supported, and if they don’t, what does that look like for them. Life is but a brief journey, as we all know, so please make sure that you’re showing up for your loved ones every day.