Count On Me: Do You Have A Squad You Can Depend On?

Ciara, Serena, LaLa & Eva Longoria via Serena's IG
By Brenda Alexander

Remember that scene from the movie Waiting to Exhale where Robyn, Gloria, Bernie and Savannah were two steppin’ to Creep by TLC with their hair tossed, outfits on fleek, candles burning in the background and champagne glasses full? From the moment I watched that part of the film, I anticipated the day my girls and I would do the same. That scene and what came afterward had all of the ingredients of what friendship symbolized to me: a tablespoon of fun, a teaspoon of honest truth, an ounce of comroadeire and a cup full of love. Now, I was only 4 when the movie was released so why I was watching it with my mother in the first place has yet to be determined, but regardless, that scene has forever stuck out in my mind as the picture of friendship. It was probably the first image of black friendship I ever saw on television and with that example, I am eternally grateful because it set the tone and standard for what I dreamed my circle would be like.
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Like many, I experienced the ups and downs (mainly downs) of friendships. I was the odd girl out because I had an overprotective mother who played no games when it came to who her daughter kept company. Instead of making friends with girls my own age at school or extracurricular activities, my mom enlisted the help of my cousin who is 8 years older than me and my afterschool program and summer camp came in the form of me following behind my cousin, sitting with her watching BET’s Teen Summit and her serving as chaperone on my school trips. In turn, I matured faster than my peers. In school, I was viewed as a bossy, know-it-all, and kept at arm's length. Not to mention the bullying, notes passed, and whispers most girls experience at some point in their adolescence. Long story short, ya girl was lonely.

High school wasn’t much different. I still found myself to be the more mature girl who was viewed as judgemental, square and boring. The friendships I did have didn’t seem to last that long and I became introverted. I had my cousin and family but yearned for something deeper: the Robin, Gloria, Bernie and Savannah bond that I saw all those years ago on screen. It wasn’t until I got to college that amazing friendships started to form. By the time college came, I was more in tune with who I was and who I wanted to be and I sought out and attracted that same energy. I was more confident, so I didn’t feel the need to waver. The friends I made in college and beyond, I felt comfortable to be myself with. We learned from each other and balanced one another out versus judging one another for our differences. We supported each other.

It’s only gotten better post college. To have a circle I can turn to for anything good or bad and turn up with is a blessing. It’s also been magical to experience growth together and watch each other’s successes explode along the way. It’s been great to be a part of and after chatting with my circle about how friendship gets greater as you age, I thought it would be great to share their thoughts as well. Here are a few personal accounts from just some of my circle:
“As we get older, we start to see friendships as more than just who lives in close proximity or who has my same class or even, who has my same personality traits. In my late twenties, I've learned that holding on to people who may be different from me but, who are willing to put in the effort to encourage and support me, are my true friends. -Kaneisha Woods, production - friends for 7 years
Kaneisha and I at our college graduation circa 2013
“Friendship is a strange thing, it bends and shifts— twisting and engulfing as you grow as a human being. In my late 20s I’ve never been more thankful for my very tight but small circle. We’re all going 100 miles an hour in different directions, yet we can always reconnect as if we’ve never left. My friends ground me and breathe life into me and I’m constantly grateful.” -Aramide Tinubu, writer - friends for 5 years

Me with Aramide at my housewarming, circa March 2017
“When I was younger, I tolerated "friends" who didn't uplift me or felt like they can control me by emotional manipulation or petty mind games. Now, I have a solid crew of friends who are multifaceted: they pray for me and cut up with me on the dancefloor in the club all in the same night -Lauren R.D. Fox, writer - friends for 3 years

Me and Lauren, circa 2016
I’m thankful for the friendships I have now. It made everything I experienced earlier in life worth it. Now we EXHALE, together.


SQUAD


Do you have a squad you can count on?
Brenda is a Philadelphia native with a love for Marketing, Creative writing, wine and Jesus. Her work has been featured on Mayvenn’s Real Beautiful blog and she is the co-author of the book Christmas 364: Be Merry and Bright Beyond Christmas Night (available for purchase on amazon). Follow her on IG @trulybrenda_ and trulybrenda.wordpress.com

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