Monday, June 1, 2015

From My Journal: The Guilt Factor of Success

I'm a twenty-something, fairly good looking, gal. It's Friday.
It's the weekend.
My phone rings and buzzes, texts and inboxes spilling across my screen.
Everyone wants to know something.
You'd imagine that it'd be invites to parties, how-are-yous after an inundated week, and/or random flirtations from men who's affections I've garnered.


It looks a little more like this:
"Can I borrow some money, until payday?"
"Know of any good spots around here, for poetry?"
"Can you help me with my college admissions essay?"
"I need a job, I heard you work for..."

*rolls eyes*

This is expected. On every rung of the ladder, of success, the requests get a little braver, a little larger. However, it's always from the folks that assume that longevity is a placeholder for them on my priority list.

Let's get one thing straight before we go any further:

"Just because we had a geometry class together once, or met amongst friends a few years back, or because we share a few of the same DNA strands, DOES NOT MAKE YOU A PRIORITY."

Got it? Cool.

Audacity looks like the inquiries above. It is the assumption that you're out living the glam life and you have slivers of time to respond to pleas accordingly.

"I assumed you were busy. That's why I didn't invite you..."

The same folks that you've cooked for, let into your home, listened to when they had issues, and/or supported in their darkest hours are quick to utilize this defense when you've noticed they have no intention of reciprocating.


These are the same people that will continue to take from you, to ask continuously, and diminish your light time and time again.

The other day one of these folks called.
She was in an emergency situation, she needed to borrow some money.
This is someone I've known for years, but didn't really have that sort of relationship with.
(I try not to have that relationship for years. I ain't out here ballin', I'm just awesome with the clearance rack. My momma taught me. Hi mom!)

I told her that I'd need it back the minute she recieved her paycheck and she agreed. I didn't want her to think it was a gift. That sort of notion breeds a reoccurring ask of funds. Payday came around and I still hadn't heard from her. I didn't need the money, but the principle bothered me.

Twenty-four hours later, I called her.

Before I could ask her anything, she went off. She started yelling about how much I didn't need the money and wouldn't miss it. She also made it clear that I could be doing better things, with my time, than harassing her. (Mind you...this was my first time calling her in days.)

She continued, "You're crazy successful! I don't have it like that. I need help. Why are you being so difficult? Not all of us get lucky, like you."

I still hadn't said a word and when I fixed my mouth to, she'd hung up the phone.

When I called, I'd been roaming a shoe store with my mother in another state. We often took weekend trips to other cities and spent the time on the highway conversing about the week. My mother walked up to me, a few moments later, and saw that I looked troubled. I put the heels down, that I held in my hand, and sat in a nearby chair.

"Mom, I feel guilty."

"About what?"

"I'm here buying heels and traveling and Naomi is struggling. I feel horrible about even calling to ask her for the money back. Did we really need to take this trip?"

My mother sat next to me, clearly peeved, "Erica, what the hell do you feel guilty about?"

I looked up at my mom, the feeling of culpability floating around my chest.

She continued, "You work hard, when she's sleeping you're up writing freelance articles and blogs. You work twelve hour days. Every time I call you, you're dead tired. You're not lucky. You earn everything you have, the right way."

My mother was right. My "friend", Naomi, made her own decisions, in life. Her predicament, in this individual case, was of her own making. I wasn't obligated to clean up her mess. I didn't owe her a thing.

However, she most certainly owed me something.

I text her: I'll be needing the money back in full, when you get it. Let's make this the last loan, so we can salvage our friendship. Thanks. 

A few days later, I got the money back. Naomi and I are cool, but things aren't the same. I understood.

I understood that things needed to be different.
I understood that I only wanted positivity around me, folks that reciprocated love and light.
I understood that I wanted friends that didn't use me.

I changed my number.
I only gave it to folks that were good & warm,
folks that called just to say hi and see how my day was.

It felt right.
It felt necessary.

There's a flaw in this title. There's no guilt factor when it comes to success. As long as it's rightfully earned and you worked hard for it, it's yours. You don't owe anyone anything. Hold close the folks that helped you along the way, cherish people that cheered for you, keep them as priority. However, never doubt, even for one second, your triumphs.

Success is a badge. Sport it, as if a sash is splayed across your chest.
Help those who wish you well.
(Don't turn your backs on those who don't, but be weary of the energy you lend them.)
Let God, or whomever you believe in, handle the rest.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Needed to hear this. Ive barely made it and im still suffocated by survivors guilt. "Friends" and family among the worst offenders.