How To Actually Have A Better Year: On Toxic Relationships

One thing I’ve seen people advocate this past month is dropping toxic friendships from your life. I agree, but I also think that removing bad doesn’t necessarily guarantee the addition of good. Instead of simply ridding ourselves of what hurts us, we need to also become the kind of person worth keeping. We need to set the example of what is good.

Security, reciprocal emotional responsibility, and clear communication are qualities we often take for-granted. But people worth keeping exhibit these, and more.

We all basically understand that toxic people leave you emotionally drained, devalued, and/or feeling stifled in your attempts at communication. We shouldn’t dehumanize or vilify them, though – they are insecure people who deserve compassion. But they lack responsibility of both their own emotions and those of others. They may believe that admitting their own shortcomings, fears – thereby being vulnerable – is a weakness. Or they may source their own value in others’ esteem and project.

In contrast, people worth keeping are those with whom you can have conversations about everything from the weather to your wildest dreams. They know that everyone has faults – themselves and you – but know that everyone is trying their best. They know that everyone has just as many if not more strengths. When something goes wrong, they let you know while still taking account of the fact that every story has two sides. When something goes right, they tell you, encouraging you, building you up.

To simplify, in a harmonious relationship, communication is earnest and reciprocal, ambitions and vulnerabilities are validated, and both individuals are responsible.

Getting rid of toxicity won’t guarantee that the rest of our relationships will be fulfilling. We all want people who build us up, make us excited to reach for our goals, and make us feel safe. But to find these kinds of relationships, we need to be those kinds of people too. In 2019, we need to all become people who communicate respectfully with others, are strong enough to be vulnerable, and responsible enough to nurture truly positive relationships.

Rebuilding London Bridge

London Bridge is falling down, falling down…

London, like 2018, is complex for me.

Two years ago, I came to London on a 3 day trip with my once-friend. It was a rich cultural excursion filled with lots of fun activities and sites, but it was also a lesson. I lost someone whom I once considered close and started doubting myself on that trip.

2018 was similar in that sense. It was an emotionally turbulent year, but filled with unique, unparalleled experiences. I did not doubt my choices – on the contrary, I built my confidence in them back up – but I started doubting other things. Dreams. Identity. Relationships.

It’s now 2019 and I am starting off the year in London.

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“Heureux qui, comme Ulysse…”

This was a creative nonfiction piece I wrote first year of college. It’s about homesickness and searching for a place of belonging, a theme still relevant to me today. It describes the narrator’s journey throughout the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, MA.

Sunlight dangled from the ceiling windows. The air smelled of earth and dust, and the voices of onlookers echoed through the room. I placed my hands on the stone parapet and leaned forward. Was this what they called a home?

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