I can’t explain how proud of my friends I am. Whatever they do, they do it with all they are. Monica crushes the arts and Amy crushes the academics. They are lights in the dark, make you feel so known and loved, and are each champion for people, for the unheard, the unjustly judged, the misunderstood, and the lonely.
I have the immense opportunity to visit them in Atlanta every few months and watch them work hard and love well. Monica recently choreographed an incredible show and Amy kicked a$$ during her first year of Emory while working multiple jobs. Anyway, this isn’t brag on my friends hour (though it should be).
While I was here watching my friends succeed, love life, improve themselves, and serve others, I couldn’t help but think about what I’m doing. I got sucked into the comparison hole and had that thought that plagues me every so often;
What am I even doing?
And in that silent moment of fear of the future, self-hatred, insecurity, whatever you want to call those lies from the enemy, I realized that it’s FAR to easy for “I’m proud of my friends” to turn into “I’m ashamed of myself,” and that is so dangerous and harmful.
Why is it that celebrating other people seems so rare these days? Just because I’m proud of my friends and cheer them on doesn’t mean I should feel like I am failing. Someone else’s success is not my failure.
And yet, sometimes it feels like it is and I HATE that.
I want to be my friends’ biggest fan and that shouldn’t hurt my own self-confidence at all. And I firmly believe it shouldn’t for anyone else either.
You should be a champion of the people you love. Find the talents they don’t even know they have. Your words should be a source of hope to them. Know them deeply and listen to their words. Find out their love language and shower them with the love they need the way they’ll receive it best. Make the decision your friend is wonderful and they’ll feel wonderful.
It’s hard to feel wonderful. It’s hard to feel any more than ordinary. And we all need a little help.
This is not a world solely for you or I. This is not a world where everything affects your own greatness and value. This is not a life meant to be lived alone. It’s a world of relationships and community and that is so much more than spending an hour with someone a week.
It is knowing your friend may need a reminder to eat lunch and take time for themselves.
It’s buying a two dollar elephant sticker for your sister because you know she loves elephants.
It means remembering a conversation you had a year ago and bringing it up again for a good laugh.
It means supporting their art. Buying tickets, sharing paintings, listening to music.
It’s knowing their fears and hopes.
It’s listening for an hour without relating it to yourself.
It’s being proud of them without tearing yourself down.
It’s being proud of yourself. It’s being vulnerable with someone else with your own fears and hopes. It’s accepting a compliment because you trust the genuineness of your friend. It’s hugging and calling to make sure you got home safely. It’s sharing your own art because you care about their opinion. It’s finding accountability in friends.
I’m not perfect at any of this in any way. I fail a lot. I found out recently Amy often repeats something two or three times because she knows I wasn’t listening to her the first time. And I want to be better, but I also know that I love my friends more than they may ever know and I am GENUINLY so proud of them.
And that doesn’t mean I don’t deserve someone to be proud of me. Because I do, and that’s okay.
I’m thankful for my friends and I’m proud of them. I am also proud of myself.
This world is brutal. We should be the fans to each other that we don’t think we deserve.