Leveling up in Friendships

During school, it was easy to make friends because we had so much in common. We took the same classes, joined the same clubs, turned up together. We were all experiencing the same things at the same time, so becoming best friends didn’t take much effort. It wasn’t until I completed college in 2015 that I started to struggle with my friendships.

The people that I’ve known all of my life were suddenly all going their separate ways to pursue the career they want, date the guy, move across the country to start fresh, etc. I felt like I was struggling to keep up with our differences, including my own. I was growing into a new Dayana, but it was hard for me to find the balance in nourishing my old relationships and opening the door to create new ones.

In some ways, I felt disconnected to the people that I’ve known for so long, but that didn’t mean that my love changed. My expectations were starting to shift. This realization was a hard pill for me to swallow at first. It meant that I was growing in a different direction than my other friends. It required me to internalize the woman I’m becoming and ditch old habits and ways of thinking.

At first, I was in denial and didn’t want to accept the fact that my growth required me to surround myself with like-minded intellects. I had always heard of the term “leveling up” through social media, but I didn’t like the way it sounded. It felt like to level up, I had to dump my old friends. It felt like I was trying to act better than others, so I continued to suppress what I already knew.

A couple of months ago, I got really frustrated with myself. I felt like I was growing, but I had no outlet or people to share my newfound growth. The type of people I wanted to share my growth with didn’t exist in my circle. I felt like I was stuck because I wanted to keep growing, but I didn’t know how. It felt like I reached my creative peak, and I was going to crash soon. I felt thirsty. I was thirsty to surround myself with other creatives going through similar experiences.

I started reaching out to people on social media to connect. Some people responded, others didn’t, and some were inconsistent. I prayed to the universe to provide me with a group of black creatives in my life. I was thirsty for growth, and I was eager to grow with other creatives. It was then I understood what it meant to level up in friendships. I knew for me to reach my full potential I needed to level up the people around me. I needed people that I could learn from, chat with about my ups and downs, and overall become better individuals than we already are through support.

Leveling up in my friendships required my step out of my comfort zone. It required me to talk to people when I so badly wanted to hide. I continued to pray because I knew I wanted specific individuals in my life. I wanted to be surrounded by creative black women. It’s taking some time, but the puzzle is slowly starting to come together. Sometimes, all it takes is finding one right person to connect with that sees your potential and your drive. From there, other relationships will happen organically.

Today, I find myself connecting with the right people, and it feels good. It doesn’t feel forced nor does it require me to be anything other than myself. I think this is key in leveling up in new friendships to remain true to yourself and trust your intuition. If a friendship feels fake or forced that’s because it is.

To anyone who is searching for their new tribe and leveling up, my advice is to keep pushing. There are likeminded individuals just like you who are waiting for you to find them. It’s going to take some time to find the right people, but that’s okay. You deserve to be surrounded by people who appreciate your gifts and your presence.