Back in 2007, I found a group of people who made me like who I was. Probably the first time in my life, I found people that made me comfortable with being me.
For the longest time, I was always with people who wanted to change me, to “fix me,” so to speak. I was too like this or too like that. And while I do appreciate what those people have done, expand me and try and make me see different sides of myself, it wasn’t good for me, in the long run. It perpetuated this need to constantly have to be someone else to please people. In a strange way, I adapted and changed who I was to fit their mold. I was always adjusting to become who they wanted me to be. To become the person they thought I should be; how they saw my potential.
Don’t get me wrong, they had the best intention. We were all young and we had the world at our beck and call. They thought they were doing right by me and, with my weak and submissive personality, I thought I was doing right by me by taking what they said into consideration.
Then in 2007, I met a group of people who took me in and they laughed at my jokes and I laughed at theirs. We had an easy time connecting and they were amazing people. I started hanging out with them more and then, it just hit me: they weren’t demanding from me. And I’m so used to having people make demands from me. But they didn’t. They wanted to hear what was exactly on my mind. They did not want me to change. They just loved me. That was it. And I was overjoyed.
They wanted to hang out with me because of how I thought and what I contributed to the conversation. I was never tip-toeing around and making sure I said the right things with them. I could just be me and it was going to be fine. If I was wrong, they’d say so but they wouldn’t tell me what to do. They’d share why they thought so and they left it up to me if I was going to do anything about it. It didn’t change anything between us. I could tell them if I thought they were wrong and they would take it into serious consideration and then they would do as their conscience dictated. And I wouldn’t take it against them.
I found true friends.
And in that process, I found the me that I liked being. I found who I was and I became more and more unafraid to be who I was because I found people who would accept me for being that way. They recognized my weaknesses and protected me from it. They found my strength and took from it when they needed it. We were there for each other. It was marvellous.
I found myself and I changed slightly, so that the things that I used to think were undesirable, based on the things that my old group had ingrained on me. And when I changed, my new friends changed with me, adjusted to how I changed.
This is what prompted me to become stronger; I began to love myself and be comfortable with who I was as a person and this helped me grow.
But as they years moved on, they began to leave, one by one. My super-duper good friend Cat left for Australia. My best friend Tals left for Spain. Amanda and Lorraine graduated and began working and one by one, the ones who stayed in Manila, I saw less and less of. But we kept in touch. Facebook, e-mail, and Skype, later on Whatsapp and what other modes of technology made it easy to stay connected — we used it all. Time zones, distance, the routine of everyday living never stopped us from staying connected.
Being with them allowed me to find new friends who accepted me for who I was, rather than hanging around people who made me want to change myself just so that they would like me.
My life got so much better since I met them.
Now, they are back. All those that left for other countries have come home for vacation (or for different reasons) and for the first time in five years (give or take) we’re all back together and it feels great to be reunited with people that I love and who have been so instrumental in making me love myself.
We won’t all be in the same time zone and in the same city for very long, but while we are together, I am going to bask in the joy of us being all together again.
I’m happy. I’m really, really happy about it.