The Best of Friends

[Content Note: Judgment; choice policing.]

image of tweet authored by me reading:'If you want and need friends who won't judge you, find people who are content with themselves.'

I don't mean, of course, people who think they have no flaws, nothing that needs working on, no room for improvement. I mean people who are keenly aware of their own flaws, who are always working on themselves, and who give themselves the space they need to fail and learn and do better, but don't constantly knock themselves for being imperfect, for being human.

People who care about themselves, who define their value based on how much they're living up to their own expectations and not by what other people think of them, nor by some imaginary competition with everyone they know, all of whom have to come up wanting in order that they may feel satisfied.

There is no harsher dispensary of inflexible judgment than someone who always needs to do and be better than you, in order that they might feel they are worth something.

There is no more relentless policer of your choices than someone who doesn't feel secure in their own.

And there is no warmer place than beside someone who is content enough in themselves to celebrate your successes and mourn your defeats with you in a way that makes your successes shimmer even more brightly and your defeats loom a little less grim.

We live in a culture of judgment, in which auditing and gossiping and policing are sporting events in which we participate to mask the insecurities bred and sustained by that very culture. We talk about toxic friendships, but what about the ones that just feel shitty, simply because people are behaving the way we're all entrained to behave?

Sometimes you find that when you decide to love and accept and be content with yourself, those friendships don't work anymore. There is only the prickling awkwardness of insistent judgment meeting blushing reluctance where your friendship used to be.

That's hard, but it's okay.

Once you find some kind of contentment with yourself, even a nascent and delicate contentment that feels so precarious you are sure your knees are wobbling even when they're steady, it's increasingly difficult to maintain friendships with people who refuse to be content with you, too.

That judgment, once a valuable currency of bonding, feels suddenly like a cloak made of steel wool.

You need urgently to sit with people who love you as you are, a work in progress, because suddenly you love yourself as you are, and anything less feels wrong.

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