The Inconvenient Friend

As millennials go, my life is pretty unorthodox. I don’t live in a gentrified neighborhood with a rescue dog. I don’t have a yoga body or belong to an adult kickball league. I live at home. Actually, I live in my aunt and uncle’s home. With my parents. My mother, a victim of dementia. My father, a survivor of two strokes and a heart attack.

If that weren’t wacky enough, I am also a quasi-employed, unlicensed non-driver. I suffer from social anxiety disorder and depression, and the next of 40+ surgeries is just around the corner.

As you can imagine, all of these things make me very popular with my peers. Sure, people think I’m nice. They just wish my life weren’t so… complicated.

In a nutshell, I am the inconvenient friend. That friend who is really nice and well-intentioned, but ultimately unable to contribute her fair share to the relationship. I am the girl who would be so great if only she made a series of changes to better accommodate her hip “friends.”

Every weekend I mourn a little for the life BuzzFeed tells me I should have.

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Source: Google Books

I shed a tear or two for the failed social interactions and never-had dates, all casualties of my inconvenient life. “It’s not fair,” I say aloud to no one in particular. “I don’t ask for that much. All I want to do is wear some fringe while wandering aimlessly around a festival every now again. I know my ‘friends’ are attending these things, but no one is inviting me. It’s my own personal interpretation of Mindy Kaling’s book.”

One lonesome Friday evening, there was a listening ear to my weekly wonderings. My father asked me what was wrong, amid my frustrated listing of reasons my friends have effectively ghosted me. I whined that the lack of inclusion makes me feel devalued but that I refuse to beg anyone to spend time with me, especially not full-grownish adults. He stopped me mid-rant and asked “what about your closest friends? How do they make you feel?”

Subtle spin on a stock psychological question? Perhaps. But I entertained an answer nonetheless.

After giving his question some sincere thought, I rendered a response. “Well, I guess, they make me feel loved… without judgment.”


The last week or so, I’ve repeatedly found myself on the receiving end of some really sound advice:

Let go.

Three of my girlfriends, my mother, and a book all told me to let go. But let go of what exactly? Relationships? Expectations? Society’s definition of success?

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Source: Disney

As millennials, we are accused of arrested development. Spoiled, entitled brats with various strains of Peter Pan Syndrome. But this millennial is ready to grow up. This woman is ready to let go of conditional relationships and society’s prescribed expectations of who she should be. She is ready to navigate life in ways that may not always be popular, or hip, but that will ultimately equip her with everything she needs to change the world!

As I navigate this thing we now call “adulting,” I realize that my path will be unorthodox. It won’t look like the path of my peers. It may not include a gig at a trendy tech startup. There may be no mid-week, underground dance parties at ultra-exclusive speakeasies.

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Aisha at Fernbank Museum of Natural History

I may never get to deliver any awe-inspiring TED Talks.

Or maybe all of these things will happen and my life will be the quintessential millennial dream come true. But I refuse to allow the quality of my life to be defined by some ethereal counsel of cool.

I think my life will be a good one. It will be disappointingly normal and uneventful. It won’t be insta-worthy. But it will be filled with love and good intentions.

I will get my driver’s license. My role will shift from caregiver to employee. Or entrepreneur. I will own my own home and open it to friends and family in need of refuge from the messiness of life. Maybe I’ll get married and we’ll have some kids. Maybe I’ll fly solo. Perhaps I’ll get a dog.

I will let go of relationships that have ultimately run their course, and I will pour into anyone willing to put up with my lack of cool. I will sharpen my skills and hone my crafts and use them whenever and wherever I can to brighten at least one little corner of this place called Earth. I will make some mistakes, of course. But my mind will be open, my heart will be happy, and my life will be… good.

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When Words Are Too Much

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When tragedies occur, people often search for words to accurately describe their feelings while sensitively protecting those most severely affected. Over the last few weeks, many sad events have transpired. Most recently, the mass shooting at a gay club in Orlando, Florida, where 50 lives were lost in an unfathomable act of hate-fueled violence.

As the news broke early Sunday morning, and people around the world began to awaken to the shocking (if not surprising) news, people quickly took to their cell phones and laptops to express condolences, outrage, fear, grief, and – in some particularly despicable cases – even arrogant I-told-you-sos.

Many of the passionate, heartfelt responses were timely and apropos. They embodied the author’s feelings and emotions, acknowledge the hurting victims, and some even called for action (stricter gun control, immediate blood donations). Some tweets, posts, snaps, and streams, however, were ill-timed, inappropriate, or just plain tasteless. Of course, some of the posters stand by their heartless and ignorant statements, but I also suspect that there are a few who simply posted in haste. Their stream-of-consciousness response to scattered thoughts and unmetered emotions pours out in combinations of words that could cause more harm than good.

My social media responses have been subtle and slow to come. It was tempting to immediately post my opinion on the events that took place, not because I felt the urgent need for my voice to be heard, but for fear that my radio silence would be viewed as condonance or apathy. I found myself questioning the validity of my voice as someone who is an ally of both the LGBTQIA+ and Islamic communities, as a Christian who loves all of these people.

While silence can certainly be deadly, misspoken words may wreak havoc. As a writer, I want to use my voice to inspire and to provoke thought. I also want to behave responsibly, focusing on the heart of the problem without allowing myself to veer off-course into psuedo-political shouting matches.

I want people reading my words to know that the thoughts I express come from a place of deep love and respect. I do not proport to know how my friends and family who are part of the LGBTQ community feel or what they experience in times like this. Nor do I claim to begin to understand the complex feelings Islamic brothers and sisters have in these moments.

Wherever you are, whatever your thoughts, feelings, and emotions please know this:

There are people who love you. People whose faith is founded in love and who are wholly committed to living out that faith in both word and deed. I am one of these people.