Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Illumination Thieves.

(Art by Brianna McCarthy)

I had a friend. Actually I had several of these friends, but today we’ll focus in on one in particular. She had no hobbies, no real interests, and could barely keep a job. We hung out all the time and I’d try to find out her goals and I yearned to push her towards them, but she wasn’t trying to hear any of it.

Over the years, she was always abundant. She showed up at dinner parties I threw, came out to shows I had, came to all the events I invited her to, and always made sure she became friends with the individuals that I introduced her to.

I always saw her as a supportive friend; I was so caught up in the blitz of my life that I didn’t notice the intricacies. However, other folks did. My mother and several friends started to note:

She only came around during special occasions.
She could always reach me, whenever she needed advice, but I could never quite reach her.
She made friends with individuals, that I introduced her to, and invited them out to places I’d also introduced her to.
I never received an invite.
She started adapting habits of mine: Sitting in alcoves, in my favorite café & library hideaways to ‘write’, suddenly buying canvass and painting, getting box braids (she’d never worn them before), and using phrases that I often used.

No one is really the originator of anything, however, when you start to see your idiosyncrasies manifest on another person, someone who never took an interest in those things, it’ll start to annoy you.

I tried to ignore it. I figured she was finding herself. However one night it all came to a head:

I was perusing Twitter and I came across her new bio: Writer. Poet. Used Bookstore Hunter. Graphic Designer. Superwoman.

I couldn’t even tell you high my eyebrows were raised. I went to check her Facebook to see if she’d put up the bio there too. She hadn’t. However, there were recent pictures of her at an event that she’d thrown that I’d known nothing about.

I called her.

Hey, can we talk?

I went into explaining how uncomfortable the bio made me (it was so freakin’ close to my own) and asked her why she’d chosen those titles, when I knew for a fact that she barely wrote, had never written a poem in her life, knew nothing about graphic design, and was certainly not Superwoman. (No shade. I told everyone in my last post that Superwoman doesn’t exist.) Most importantly, I wanted to know why I hadn’t been invited to her shindig.

These were her exact words: So…I know a little bit about each of those worlds, because you’ve kind of brought me into them. It’s like sprucing up your resume to get a job. I want people to see me like that.

But that’s not who you are.

Again she spoke: So…that’s who I’m going to be. I didn’t invite you to the event, because you go to things all the time. I didn’t think it mattered.

It matters. I would’ve liked to support you.

Her: You get a lot of attention. I didn’t want you there soaking it up. I really just needed to be around you to get my feet wet. If you’re going to be jealous of my progression, we could just stop speaking.


You see the face you’re making right now? Yeah, you. Reader! That’s the same exact face I made. All sorts of emotions came out in this conversation. You know how this sort of back and forth ends.

I tell you this story, because I want to hip you to illumination thieves. We have different names for some of these folks: leeches, imitators, etc. However, most folks who show signs of this behavior are not cognizant of it and are shocked and appalled when we bring it to their attention. It could be an exhibition of how they were raised or a mimicking of other friendships, but I’ve seen most of those folks try to change their ways after being told off.

But an illumination thief is very aware. They’re very strategic and manipulative, when it comes to stealing your light. All the interactions, above, are certainly ways to identify these folks. However, they don’t just come in petty girlfriend dealings.

You know that guy you’re feeling, but he doesn’t see you that way? The man that confuses the mess out of you?

He’s already stated that he’s got a lot going on and he’s not interested in pursuing anything, but he’s still around…all the time.

Guess what? Illumination thief.

You probably have a huge compliment sandwich in your texts or your memory:

You’re so amazing, but I have to get my ish together before I can take part in anything.
I really admire you.
You’re smart, witty, beautiful…
You’re a great cook, classy…
You’re definitely the kind of girl I can take home.
But right now…I’m not in a place where I can be what you need.

Don’t eat that!

1)     If someone tells you that they aren’t good enough for you, believe them.
2)     If you’ve got so much to handle, why are you still on my phone?

He’ll keep texting and calling, saying that he’d like to be “friends.” He’ll hang around you and invite himself to all of the things you’re involved in.


He wants some of your awesomeness to rub off on him. He wants some of your light honey. You’re a luminary. You’re just not luminous enough for him to commit.

& honestly…he’s not teaching or giving you anything (light) in return…

A lot of us let this type of dude linger, hoping he’ll change his mind when he sees how amazing we are. (He already knows you’re amazing. Didn’t he already tell you this?) Don’t be surprised when a few months later he has a girlfriend. (& still doesn’t have his ish together.)

Don’t be surprised when he impresses her with all the magic you possess.
Don’t be shocked when he suddenly no longer wants to be your “friend.”
He got what he came for.


Don’t let them steal your light. That’s all they’re there for.

My mother used to say this to me all the time. Over the years I’ve met several people like this.

Some people glow.
It has nothing to do with stature, standing, and/or nobility.
Some people just…glow.
Some are aware and some are not.

Trust and believe, the folks around you are very aware of it. They’ll follow it like babies do shiny things.

In recognizing your illumination several things can happen:
You can be called conceited.
You can be called confident.
You can be called aware.

Today, I’m going to ask you to be aware.

You are sparkling with something that folks will latch on to.
This is okay.
There’s nothing wrong with being the person that folks find bright.
However, if you’re around people that aren’t giving you that energy back, it’s time to point them to the nearest exit.
We should uplift and replenish those around us, in the same way that they do for us.

Shine; just be mindful of your shadows.

Love to hear your thoughts! Ever come in contact with an illumination thief? Tell me about it, in the comments!

1 comment:

Unknown said...


I literally went through this very same thing about two years ago now, and that person and I no longer speak. I totally related to this post.

Great writing, girl!

Krystal K.
The Feisty House