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Culture. Love. War: Flowers While I'm Breathing

If we want goodness in our lives, we have to pay it forward.
I’ve long fancied myself someone who is a good friend, supportive of those around me and generally loving and reliable. And though I have been known to run myself ragged trying to do everything asked of me and be everywhere folks need me to be, I don’t think I’ve always been so aware of how many folks are rooting for me. A trip back to my alma mater this past weekend for our annual homecoming celebration made that abundantly clear.

Back on the beloved ‘Yard’ for just a few brief days, I had the opportunity to catch up with friends and former classmates who I don’t speak to on a regular basis. I was totally overwhelmed with the sincere excitement and encouragement folks offered me regarding recent personal and professional developments.

We hear so much about sisters (and brothers) ‘hating’ on one another or failing to be supportive, so to get that sort of unadulterated love was really touching… overwhelming, even. I was again grateful for the choice that I made to attend a school that truly does value itself as a large extended family, but beyond that, I recognize that I have consistently surrounded myself with the right people. This weekend brought a large gathering with many people, but even when I’m with smaller crowds in my hometown or my adopted home of Brooklyn, the loving folks far outnumber the obvious detractors. That’s not on accident.

You don’t need to keep people around you who aren’t supportive of your goals. This is easier said than done, of course. But truth be told, those negative folks who’d sooner see you down in the dumps with them will make themselves known over time. Friends who don’t want to see you doing well aren’t friends. They are roadblocks, potentially blocking you from getting to the place that you deserve.

At the same time, you should also be genuinely happy when the people you care about achieve some sort of success, no matter how small and no matter how you may be struggling yourself. Lord knows there were many times I went out to toast a friend who had just gotten a promotion… as I counted the coins in my bank account and wondered when my day would come (and if I could even afford that drink). It may have been difficult at times, but I was able to look past my own frustration and feel good that someone I cared about was doing well.

As I express my appreciation for the outpouring of well-wishes I have received as of late, I am now encouraged to make sure that I am just as demonstrative when letting other folks know that I’m rooting for them, too. If we want goodness in our lives, we have to pay it forward. I made sure that I also showed plenty of love to my folks this weekend, and I will do so in the years to come.

Knowing that I have people in my corner makes me feel ready to take on the world, so I don’t doubt that others would be just as inspired by my support. Of course, you’ve heard the old saying, “Give me my flowers while I’m breathing.” People deserve to feel appreciated while they are around, in order to be grateful and encouraged by it. Spread love whenever and wherever you can, because you never know who needs to hear how you feel!