Saturday, December 6, 2014

Dear Girlfriends, It's Not You, It's Me

Dear Girlfriends,

You have been there to share joys and celebrations.  We've toasted and cheered, and sometimes we've even cried.  Sure life gets in the way, but when we reunite it always seemed to feel effortless to pick right back up and get lost in conversation for hours.  You have done nothing wrong.  You have not changed - still that girl with the beautiful smile with whom I can share light-hearted, uplifting wine-infused late night giggles and girl talk.  Please know that I am grateful for the time we have shared, but I've reached that point in my life where I find myself constantly having to protect those few precious unscheduled moments.....and where I find myself needing to be around only those who truly feed and nourish my soul.

It's not you, it's me.

You have not changed, but it appears that I may have.  A lot.  You see, I used to be quite comfortable pretending to be just like you.  In fact, every time we were together, I did everything to convince myself that the things that mattered to you, also mattered to me.  That we shared life experiences.  That we saw the world through the same lens.   But we don't.  And for some reason, for all those years, I tried so hard to pretend that we did, and so I misled you.  I'm sorry.  I'm afraid I'm not the "Americanized", watered-down token Asian side-kick who, skin and hair color aside, perceives the world in the manner that you do.  And let me be clear that I am not choosing to surround myself only with those who perceive the world exactly as I do, but I am choosing a circle of friends who intentionally acknowledge and value, and heck even celebrate, the fact that we may see the world differently.  

And friend, WE are vastly different.  But it's not you, it's me - because it's no longer enough for you to be interested in the spices and recipes of my culture. Did you know that my immediate family celebrates three different faith traditions?  For years I cringed, and tried to ignore your assumptions and condescension about the absoluteness of your own faith.  You should know that I celebrate friends from many faith backgrounds, but rather than dictate scripture and pass judgements, we honor one another's beliefs, and we seek commonalities in our expressions of faith. 

It's not you, it's me - because try as I might, I can't understand or accept your inability to acknowledge your own privilege.  The rest of the world doesn't usually get to choose to have multiple exotic romantic getaways, the most vintage and rare wine, designer clothes, or the healthiest organic, gourmet foods.  Honestly, many of us do not measure the quality of our lives based on those standards - and it's just become too exhausting for me to constantly try to blend into an environment that has always felt so very foreign to me.

It's not you, it's me.  I can't be the only person of color in your life.  It's too much pressure for me to constantly represent the minority view.  While it's the norm in my work life, it's simply too tiresome for me to always be "the only one in the room" in my personal life. Why is it that you don't have a single black friend, gay friend, or non-Christian friend?  And if that was your subconscious intention, why is it that we are still friends?  Do you have any idea how impacted this friend - the friend "between two races" is in this increasingly divisive state of injustice our world is experiencing?  Have you read these blogs I wrote last year?  If you secretly have, why haven't you engaged me in conversation about these parts of me that define the very core of who I am?,

It's not you, it's me.  I can't be your one peripheral feminist, activist friend who's always angry about something, always rallying about something, always blogging about something.  It's too hard for me to always feel like an anomaly when in your environment.  Because I'm not.  I'm surrounded by hoards of people who care about making the world better, who care enough to speak up, act out in their own ways.  Some also rally and blog and advocate, but many just simply send me a supportive text, voice their discontent with the status quo, make a modest donation to a non-profit organization, or merely take the time to ask me about the work with which I am involved.  You never have.

Really, it's not your fault that I can no longer make time and intention for our future shared moments together.  It's me.  It's just too hard for me not to BE me when I'm among "friends".


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