Friends Lift You Higher

Since it’s Valentine’s Day, I hope you will allow me to wax poetic on relationships for a bit.

I mentioned that one of my 2012 resolutions was to rid myself of toxic relationships. I wrote about disingenuous and pot-stirring ones, but what about the relationships that always seem to bring you down? The friendships in which you don’t feel comfortable sharing happy news for fear of the negative reaction coming your way? Whether it be blatant negativity or passive aggressive jabs, it seems that we all have people like this in our life. My question to you is, WHY are these people in our life?

My wise parents taught me at a very young age that these kind of interactions are rarely about the recipient. When I would come home from school, upset about a mean-spirited statement, they would always say, “It’s not about you, it’s about them.” There could be a myriad of reasons why a person would want to rain on your parade, but it’s very, very rarely about you. My parents have branded that into my psyche. Hurtful jabs really don’t have that much to do with you.

As I’ve grown up, I’ve always kept that in the back of my mind, but in a way, it has allowed me to make apologies for this behavior. “Oh, he/she didn’t mean it, they are just having a rough time, ” or  “They are dealing with some deeply-rooted insecurities regarding the issue” are some things I tell myself when I’m the recipient of such jabs. But you know what? I shouldn’t be making excuses for it. Hurtful, mean-spirited comments from a “friend” are hurtful and mean-spirited. Period, end of story.

One of the most important gifts you could ever give is to “lift your friends higher.” When something wonderful is happening to a friend, I want to be their #1 supporter, and on the flip side, nothing makes me happier than to share good news with a friend who celebrates with me. I can’t get over how many smart, talented and beautiful women (and men!) I have the pleasure to call friends. It’s insane, really. So many people doing such amazing things with their lives, and I feel so grateful when I can be a personal witness.

So! I have a couple of things to ask of you. If you are dealing with this kind of negativity from a friend, ask yourself, “is it worth it?” If you are constantly pumping positivity into a relationship, but only receiving negativity in return, maybe it’s time to reevaluate. You guys, if I’ve learned anything over the past few years, it’s that today could be your last. We’re only here once. This is it. Make every day your best. Lift people higher.

(I truly don’t know where all this motivational speaker biznass is coming from, but let’s roll with it, peeps!)

Here’s the most important part. I think, due to the above-mentioned negative behavior, that many of us tend to keep quiet about our achievements. I can’t even tell you how many times, when asked about a recent accomplishment, I look down at my feet and kick imaginary dirt, muttering something about being lucky or “I don’t know how it happened.” Well, on this lovely Valentine’s day, let’s change that. I want to hear about an accomplishment that YOU are proud of achieving – no self-deprecation, no kicking the dirt, just straight up pride, folks. It could be anything from emptying the dishwasher three nights in a row to winning a Pulitzer. Professional or personal, whatever.

Here, I’ll start. Deep breath.

Hi, I’m Sarah and I am PROUD of the hard work and consistent focus that I have put into writing my blogs for the past seven years. I know that the amazing opportunities coming my way are not luck, but a direct reflection of that commitment and focus.

Damn, that felt good! Now, it’s your turn. Don’t be shy, you guys. Reading these comments will make my week!

  1. Linsey

    February 14, 2012 at 11:00 am

    Hello. I am Linsey and I’m proud that I got into grad school (for my MBA) two weeks after submitting an application. I thought there was a fluke in the system, BUT I DID IT! ON MY OWN! I still need to hear back from five other schools, but a huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulders knowing that I am going to grad school in the fall.

    • whoorl

      February 14, 2012 at 12:22 pm

      Congratulations, Linsey! DUDE, grad school is HUGE.

  2. Amy

    February 14, 2012 at 11:05 am

    Love this post! And I totally agree—I’m slowly but surely working on only choosing really happy, positive friendships for myself. It makes all the difference to be surrounded by happy, inspiring people. Having spent time with you this year at Camp Mighty, I can attest to your kind spirit and I’m so excited for you and the things coming your way.

    As for me? I’m proud of the fact that I’m pushing out of my comfort zone this year: considering some new career options, applying to graduate school for fall, actively going after new freelance work, forging new relationships. I’m trying really hard to “get it together” and that hard work is paying off.

    Happy Valentine’s Day, Sarah!

    • whoorl

      February 14, 2012 at 12:24 pm

      Thanks for your kind words, Amy. Really, nothing makes me happier than someone describing me as having a “kind spirit.” Thank you. :)

      Having met you in person, I know you BIG things are headed your way. Your positive energy is infectious!

  3. ashley

    February 14, 2012 at 11:13 am

    I’ve had some rough times recently so I needed to read something like this.

    My name is Ashley and I’m proud of myself for doing awesome in grad school while holding down a full time job without ripping out my hair.

    • whoorl

      February 14, 2012 at 12:25 pm

      Don’t know how you do it. Seriously. SUPER WOMAN!

  4. little miss mel

    February 14, 2012 at 11:17 am

    Nicely put Sarah!

    Considering I am about to face plant into my bowl of Life cereal being up with a baby who had all sorts of problems, but I couldn’t figure out one of them, I guess I am proud to be raising three small children. Most of the time it seems doable, but today I’m just hanging on. Almost one year under my belt. I am proud of that.

    And now, I’m off to shower.

    • whoorl

      February 14, 2012 at 12:27 pm

      Oh, girl. Face plant into a bowl of Life…haaaaaaa, you couldn’t have put it better. You are a rockstar, Liz. I should tell you that more often. (We had a croup from hell come out of nowhere this weekend with M. I’m feeling your late night pain right now.)

  5. la

    February 14, 2012 at 11:18 am

    This – and you – are awesome. I’ve been reading you for YEARS now, so I can say that, no, it’s not luck. OK, here goes: I write speeches that make audiences laugh out loud, whisper to their neighbors and pull out their notebooks to write down quotes.

    • whoorl

      February 14, 2012 at 12:29 pm

      Thanks, la. And WHAT? I want to hear one of these speeches!! SO COOL.

      God, I wish I was a better public speaker.

  6. agirlandaboy

    February 14, 2012 at 11:20 am

    I’m proud that I was able to let go of a toxic friendship when I realized that no, friends DON’T treat each other like that, no matter what ugly personal stuff they’re dealing with. Being a good friend means being happy for–and lifting up!–the people we love.

    p.s. I’m so proud to know you. You rock.

    • whoorl

      February 14, 2012 at 12:31 pm

      Leah, yes. YES YES YES. I recently just repeated a few things that were said to me by a “friend” to D, and he just looked at me incredulously and asked, “WHY are you friends with this person again?”

      I couldn’t come up with an answer.

      p.s. – I’m equally proud to know you as well. xoxo

      • agirlandaboy

        February 14, 2012 at 12:39 pm

        Exactly. I found myself trying to make excuses for this “friend,” to somehow make it okay that she was crappy to me about something I was excited about, but the people who knew about the incident all said, every one, “That person needs to be gone from your life. Gone.” “But…!” “GONE.”

        It was hard, but I have zero regrets.

      • bethany actually

        February 14, 2012 at 10:37 pm

        Troy has said that exact same thing—“WHY are you friends with this person again?”—about two people in my life who always seemed to drag me into their drama and bring me to tears of frustration. And you know what? He was right, both times, and when I saw that those people weren’t willing to work on having real friendships with me I let them go. It was painful and sad both times, but in the end I was so relieved, both times.

        Thank God for good husbands like D and Troy who have our backs.

  7. Darcey

    February 14, 2012 at 11:23 am

    Last month, I was told I have a $600k sales goal to meet by June 30th. I have been working on several opportunities since last year, and should everything close this week (as scheduled), it will leave me only $50k left to bring in before end of June. And all of this will put me on point to get promoted within the next year.

    • whoorl

      February 14, 2012 at 12:32 pm

      Go Darcey, it’s your birthday! Proud of you, girl. (Hey, what’s up with your hair these days? I need an update!)

      • Darcey

        February 14, 2012 at 12:35 pm

        Thanks, Sarah! :)

        I promise to provide an update on my hair as soon as I have it done again. I’ve been rocking a dark blonde/mostly straight style as of late (which my bf loves), and will probably add a bit more gold as we head into Spring.

        Actually, check out my FB pic, and that’s my hair, but with shorter bangs today! :)

  8. Nicole

    February 14, 2012 at 11:30 am

    I am proud of the fact that I am an at home mom, plan room parties, work out 5 times a week, ran a marathon, put home cooked meals on the table every night and spend each Friday evening on the couch eating snacks and drinking wine with my husband. All while going to school full time,(Monday-Thursday from 5-10pm) for Physical Therapy. I still accomplish those things that are good for me (working out) and those that are good for my family (being present and making good food), I am on the deans list and I manage to make time for my friends! I am proud to have so much on my plate and be able to handle it with determination and grace (most of the time).

    • whoorl

      February 14, 2012 at 12:33 pm

      HOLY CRAP, NICOLE. That is awesome. Like awesomely awesome HOW DO YOU DO IT??

      • Nicole

        February 15, 2012 at 7:18 am

        There is a lot of planning. There is a lot of coffee. There is a lot of help from the mister and friends. There are mornings that start at 5:45 and evenings that end at 12:45am. There are some meltdowns and some stressful mornings, but all in all, I just put on a happy face, remember I am choosing this path and this life and by golly, if I made the choice to do it, I am going to do it well and with a smile. And maybe with tequilla.

  9. LC

    February 14, 2012 at 11:35 am

    Thank you for writing this. I always keep my feelings to myself when someone gives me a backhanded compliment, immediately excusing them for “having a bad day” or even worse, an “unhappy life.” But you’re right, they only diminish my acheivements if I allow it to happen.

    A co-worker consistently tells me how lucky I am not to have a weight problem, that she’s going to give me some of her extra pounds to work off since it comes so easy to me.

    I’m proud to say that three years ago I took a hard look at my lifestyle, signed up for my first race and committed to being better, every day. As of today I’m rid of 20+ pounds and a whole lot of body-image baggage. Six months from now I toe the line at my first Ironman triathlon and am excited (and terrified) about that every single day.

    And each time that co-worker starts complaining, I invite her to go for a run or bike ride. One of these days she might take me up on it.

    • whoorl

      February 14, 2012 at 2:50 pm

      That is incredible, LC. Ironman??!! YES!

  10. Sarah

    February 14, 2012 at 11:36 am

    I feel the same way about friendships as I do about my Google Reader and Twitter feed. I fill it up with people who’s words lift me up, inspire, soothe. I make a choice who I surround myself with online and in person.

    I’m proud of the fact that I have a job I love. I’ve wanted to work for this company since I graduated from college 19 years ago, and last year I got the chance. I don’t deny it was a wonderful stroke of luck that landed me this gig, but I have worked hard and was ready when opportunity came my way. I earned it.

    Damn. That feels GOOD. :)

    • whoorl

      February 14, 2012 at 2:52 pm

      You know what Oprah says, Sarah. Luck is when preparation meets opportunity. (What am I, an Oprah quote-a-thon over here? It’s SO TRUE, though.)


  11. Ris

    February 14, 2012 at 11:39 am

    I read once somewhere that we succeed together, and fail alone. I strive to surround myself with amazing people who are succeeding, and who support me and are happy when I succeed.

    • whoorl

      February 14, 2012 at 2:52 pm

      True dat.

  12. Rebecca

    February 14, 2012 at 11:50 am

    I am proud that I cook dinner for my husband every night, contribute to our house with a six figure income and exercise regularly.

    I feel like Patrick Bateman a little bit, but that’s ok.

    • whoorl

      February 14, 2012 at 2:54 pm

      Well, those three things are nearly impossible to achieve on a daily basis, so BIG props, Rebecca.

  13. Jen

    February 14, 2012 at 11:59 am

    My husband has a very admirable job but unfortunately doesn’t make very much. I work a couple of small part-time jobs to help make ends meet. Sometimes we have to rely on the generosity of family to get by. In light of all of that, I’m EXTREMELY proud of the fact that we’re giving our three kids a very happy childhood. They’re happy, healthy and strong, despite the fact we don’t have a lot of material things to give them. They wear lots of hand-me-downs, buying new shoes at Target is a big deal and they’ve never been to Disneyworld but they know the name of every bird at the backyard feeders and the name of every bug in the garden. They know that playing in the waves at the beach is more fun than going to the fair and that hugs are the best reward, not things bought at the store. It’s really hard at times but it’s worth it. I’m really proud of the effort I make on a daily basis.

    • whoorl

      February 14, 2012 at 3:07 pm

      I loved reading your comment, Jen. This is something that I really want to work on in my own family. Yes, my hard work has led me to great opportunities, but I feel like it can definitely take away from my family. Bugs in the garden, birds at the feeders…it sounds like a wonderful thing to me. What a wonderful mama and wife you are!

  14. Elizabeth

    February 14, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    I have never been comfortable lauding my own achievements. I wish I could use this post as a motivational shoving-off point, but I just can’t. Not to be a total bummer, but my toxic relationship is not friend related, but sister related. My sister puts me down more than anyone else I’ve ever encountered, and while I know her venom is directly related to her own disappointments in her own life, it still hurts me immeasurably whenever she takes the time to put me down and tell me what a terrible person I am. I can’t have any achievements, because then I have to feel bad that my sister feels like her own life is crap. Doing something good is equal to making her life bad. I am 35 years old, and I’ve been putting up with it all my life. It may be tough to cut a bad friend out of your life, but how do you remove a sister? I am too sentimental (and frightened) to tell her that I will not take her meanness anymore, and I know that my attempt at self-preservation will just turn into an ordeal about how “sensitive” she is, how callous I am, and how I am a terrible, horrible person. Man, this is turning into a massive bummer of a comment. Sorry for unloading. This post just really struck a chord with me.

    • Jen

      February 14, 2012 at 12:41 pm

      I am so sorry, Elizabeth. You are right; cutting out a friendship is one thing, but cutting out a family member, a sister no less, is a much different story. I hope you find peace.

    • Jessica

      February 14, 2012 at 1:33 pm

      Elizabeth, I don’t have a sister but I do have a brother that likes to cause drama and bring people down when he can. I know it’s hard to say that you do not want to put up with their meanness, but it doesn’t make you a bad person to refuse to be around that kind of negativity.

    • whoorl

      February 14, 2012 at 3:04 pm

      Oh, Elizabeth. Don’t be sorry – and let me just say, I can’t imagine having to deal with that in a sister. I do, however, want you to know that many of us are dealing with situations involving people that we are bound to through family. In fact, my original resolution of saying goodbye to toxic relationships was based around someone that will be in my life, regardless.

      All I can say to you is that you are such a strong person for putting up with your sister’s ways for so long, and I can only hope that you can find a way to let her know and rectify the situation. xo

      • Elizabeth

        February 14, 2012 at 3:59 pm

        My goodness–thank you all for your wonderful and supportive comments. I certainly did not mean to unload quite so much, but reading all of your incredibly kind responses has really helped soothe me. Thank you again.

        • Sonja von Franck

          February 14, 2012 at 11:02 pm

          I thought the exact same thing when I read this post. What do you do when it’s family? A parent? A sister? Your comment is eerily similar to my relationship with my sister. I don’t want to be a bummer either, and it even seems unbelievable to type this, but we haven’t spoken in 16 months. Days go by, and I still can’t believe it. She did not/would not acknowledge the birth of my 3rd child four months into our rift. It hurts, but one thing is true. It hurts a lot less than the drama. I miss having a sister, but I don’t miss the drama and hurt feelings one bit. Hope this helps if at least you know you’re not the only one having a hard time getting along with her sister. :-)

    • Mary

      February 14, 2012 at 4:08 pm

      Oh wow, I sort of feel Elizabeth’s post was my own. I’m the younger sister (I’m 44 & my sister is 46) and all my life I’ve dealt with her negativity, “I’m the victim” rants. For me life is about choices: I happened to choose to respect our parents when we were growing up, do good in school, finish college, NOT get into drugs and partying and going to jail, take care of myself (exercising/eating right/maintaining my weight), having only 2 children instead of 5 (that she could never afford to take care of in the first place), getting and keeping a great job, meeting & marrying an angel of a husband, etc. etc. But those things came my way because of the choices I made and the person I am, not by luck. I can totally feel the pain in your post and agree that “we can’t pick who our family is” way of thinking. I’ve been so envious of friends who have great relationships with their siblings; I just thought it could never happen to me and my sister. So I had to finally tell my sister I was tired of her jealous, passive-aggressive behavior and snide remarks towards me and for what? Because I seem to be doing OK in life? I’ve worked hard for everything I have and am tremendously thankful for all my blessings and I’m not going to apologize or feel bad about it anymore when I’m around her. My conversation with her was 30+ years overdue but she now knows how her comments have hurt me and do nothing to foster a decent sister to sister relationship that we could have. It was awkward and hard but I have hopes for better things between us in the future. You have to start somewhere. You’ll feel better if you say something. Believe me, you WILL feel better if you stand up for yourself. Good Luck!!

      • Sonja von Franck

        February 14, 2012 at 11:07 pm

        Great insight and advice Mary!

    • bethany actually

      February 14, 2012 at 10:49 pm

      I’m so sorry, Elizabeth. I don’t have a sister, but one of the friends who I ended up cutting ties with was someone who had been in my life for more than 30 years. I know her whole family and she knows mine. Our moms are friends. We went to school and church together, then were pen-pals for years after we family moved away. We found ways to visit each other every year. We went to summer camp together. We were in each other’s weddings. We went to the baptisms of each other’s children even though we lived hundreds of miles apart. We aren’t related by blood but we are tied by decades of shared memories. She was as close to a sister as I could get.

      And now we barely exchange Christmas cards. I’ve never met her second husband or her stepchildren, and she’s never met my younger daughter. Five years ago it would have been unthinkable to me, and ending the relationship was incredibly difficult and only happened with lots of tears and many hours of very patient friends listening to me work through the reasons why I needed to say good-bye to her. As hard as it was, it made my life better. I’m still sad about it sometimes, but I have so much more time now to invest in people who are happy to be *true* friends to me. I wonder if someday she might realize what she lost, if we might find a way to be friends again, but I’ve made peace with the fact that we probably won’t.

      I hope you find a way to change your relationship with your sister for the better. I wish you strength and the kindness and support of people who love you.

  15. Calee

    February 14, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    I am PROUD that I’m doing what I’ve always wanted to do (write and produce films) and getting paid for it. I’m even more proud that I’m facilitating that dream for others and paying them to do it.

    • whoorl

      February 14, 2012 at 3:09 pm

      It’s the American dream, Calee! You go, girl!