Honestly Rach - May 25, 2020
Thank you guys for another great week of questions submitted to #honestlyrach. This week I am honestly diving into topics ranging from the loss of friendship, to standing strong against ignorance, to work/career crossroads.
Today is my one-year anniversary with my amazing husband! :) I have this gut wrenching feeling from something that happened a little over a year ago now...One of my best friends backed out of my wedding last year because "I abandoned her." I was very unaware of how she was feeling, she NEVER spoke up about it.... She didn't even tell me to my face that she was backing out. She wrote me a letter telling me how I simply "abandoned her.”.... (She was my roommate and she left this letter in my room the day she moved out). I took some advice from my pastor about how to confront her and he told me to write her a letter back. He said, "She would probably listen better reading a letter since that is the way she communicated it to you." I wrote her saying how hurt I was that she was accusing me of something that I was unaware of. She had plenty of opportunity to speak up... OUR ROOMS WERE NEXT TO EACH OTHER. It's not like I ignored her, and we talked everyday. I also said that I forgive her for the way she lashed out ... I ended with " I really value our friendship and I am sorry for unintentionally hurting you. Please reach out via phone or let me know when you are in town again. I don't like confrontation over letters or text messages. " I have not heard from her since. What should I do? :(
First, happy one year anniversary!!! What an exciting time for you! We can’t wait to celebrate ours in a couple of months. I am so sorry that such a milestone in your life is marked by a bad memory for you as well. I think it is great that you took the step of reaching out to her. Putting your pride to the side, you decided to consider her needs first in order to better understand the issue and rectify the situation. I know it hurts that she has not responded and you still don’t fully understand the problem. My husband, Bryan, had a very similar situation to this in regards to a long-time friend ending their friendship without explanation. He tried multiple times to reach out but to no avail. To this day, I know that it still bothers him that he no longer has that friend in his life and does not fully understand why. Sometimes the harsh reality is that you can’t expect your friends to be the same friend you are to them. I saw a quote that said, “Good friends care for each other. Close friends understand each other. But true friends stay forever, beyond words, beyond distance, beyond time.”
True friendship is not one-sided; it is a two-way street. True friendship is there through the good and bad times. Now, it may take time for your friend to come around. It may be that your friend never comes around. My aunt always says that people are in your life for a reason, a season, or forever. This might be a season that has ended. It may be a harsh realization for you that the friendship may have run its course; but you have to take comfort in knowing that you tried to make the friendship work. You have to be rest assured that you did everything you could to connect with your friend. I would try to reach out again because what do you have to lose? You don’t want pride to be a factor at any point in your decision-making because pride is at the bottom of all great mistakes. Once you feel like you have done everything that you can, the ball is in your friend’s court. Time will tell all and actions speak louder than words. These are platitudes, I know, but they also reign true in this particular situation. At the end of the day, if you never hear from her again, it will be tough for you to get over; but hold on to this…we never really lose friends, we just find out who our real friends are.
How do you stay strong after witnessing all this racism and ignorance that’s going on? I try to ignore it but it’s hard not to defend my black community and myself.
Dear Stronger Than You Think:
Great Question. I will be the first to say that I am not always strong and I think it is important to admit that because that is the perception of me. I can’t do it all and handle it all by myself. There are moments when I am weak. There are moments when I cry. There are moments when I lose faith and when I have doubts. But then there are those moments when I pick myself up off the ground. These are moments that I realize what I need to be strong. These are the moments when I rise up. And I stay strong for all those people that can’t speak up. I am strong for those who look like me. I am strong for those who need to hear and understand another perspective. I am strong for those who died and fought before me so I am able to have a platform to speak out against injustices.
Honestly, it is easy to get discouraged and lose hope in humanity with all of the negativity of last week and frankly, every day. It’s easy to give up. But if I give up and cower down then I would be empowering all of the ignorance and racism. Ignorance is always scared of change. They are making a choice to stay ignorant and are unwilling to learn. It is easy for them to keep living with their eyes closed. I try to focus on this: if one person hears me and understands me then it was worth it.
Lastly, it is important to have a strong circle and support system around you. I create a safe space with the people who know me, don’t judge me, but check me. I keep myself grounded in faith, prayer, meditation, and journaling. You have to know when to take step back for your own mental health and to ask for help. I never want to be so caught up in an issue that I can’t see the forest through the trees. Sometimes you have to take a step back to re-set, re-align, re-start, re-claim, so that you can re-ignite.
Hello Rachel, I need some honest career advice. I'm a 31-year-old black male who is a first generation college graduate. I have a bachelor's degree in economics and masters degree in management. I currently work in finance at one of top health insurance companies in the U.S. for over five years. I've been "stuck" in this same position for over five years, although there is plenty of growth within the company and other departments. I've been passed up for a promotion several times in the past, but was promised one this year until the pandemic crisis put a stop to all promotions and job changes within the company until further notice. I do my job very well and am praised regularly for going above and beyond. I feel too comfortable at this point because I'm not being challenged anymore and there is no growth happening. I also see a lot of my peers moving on up a lot quicker than me and it's getting frustrating at times. (I'm the only black male in my department btw) Should I stick it out in my department and wait for that promotion; look for another position in a different department doing something slightly different or jump ship into another career path or different company? I love that I work from home full time and the flexibility my schedule allows but I would like to move up in the company and earn more money. HELP!!!!!
Dear Career Crossroads:
First of all, congrats on being a first generation college graduate with two degrees and working at a competitive company. You have accomplished so much at a young age and will only continue to rise from here. I completely understand the feeling of being “stuck” in your current circumstance, but don’t think that you have to jump to the drastic decision of changing your career path. I think it is a situation where you can do both: (1) continue to work hard at your current job and (2) look for other work opportunities. I once heard someone I look up to say that you should always be looking for the next job or opportunity. You can’t get comfortable where you are because it allows the next person who is working harder to take your place. I think especially as the only black man, this applies to you even further. You know how the phrase goes: “You have to work twice as hard, for half as much.”
Perhaps, this company is not the best place for you and maybe you have outgrown the work and hit a glass ceiling, position-wise. Before you do make a move, I suggest that you find yourself a mentor at work. Find someone who you can trust, but also who has experience with the company and can help you understand how to specifically navigate through this problem. This will also give you time to decide what you really want for yourself and your career. It was not until I turned 31 that I asked myself the question, “Whose life am I living?” and realized I was not professionally satisfied. I think this can change depending on where you are in life. The great thing is that you seem to be extremely aware of what you want for yourself and your career, but are confused on the way to get there. Quarantine presents the perfect storm for you to reflect, repurpose, refocus and react to your next career move. Based on what you have accomplished so far, there is no doubt in my mind that you will do exactly what is best for you.