“My Crew Is Better Than Your Crew”…But Who Are You Without Them?

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promoinsertI have spent the majority of my time over the past seven years sitting and existing behind closed doors. While writing, recording and collaborating with other creative types, my journey hasn’t provided many opportunities to form new, close relationships. I have created a space for myself, consciously and subconsciously where I am forced to rely on the random contact with friends who have been a part of my life since Zack Morris and Kelly Kapowski reigned over Saturday mornings. It makes me feel good knowing that the individuals who fill the positions in my circle are people who listen to me, share with me, and like me as I AM – even as I have grown and changed into someone who isn’t as publicly social. In my daily struggle to reach mainstream media success, I have chosen to remain in regular contact with those who give me good advice when I ask for it, assists in taking action that will help me reach my goals, and works alongside me to help figure out what to do next in moments where I am facing difficult times. My goal is to maintain a crew I can tell anything to and know they will not betray my confidence.

In many circumstances, this generation has lost sight of the significance and supreme purpose of surrounding themselves with a group of people who can truly be considered friends. Instead, many teens and twenty-something’s have opted to simply hang out with individuals who engage in constant fun when out and about, while in the process — looking good standing together for group shots. The “MY CREW IS BETTER THAN YOUR CREW” slogan dictates a contemporary, collective status of surface qualities: pseudo notoriety and second hand loyalty amongst the ranks. Many young people are choosing their friends based on convenient connections that have very little to do with creating a circle where the interactions enrich their individual lives. Everyone wants to be accepted by the “cool kids” – even if that top tier of the social paradigm only provides temporary self worth and gratification. It has seemingly become enough however — in a world where including non-talent related booking information in an online bio has replaced the honor of listing degrees, certifications and other substantial achievements.

“MY CREW IS BETTER THAN YOUR CREW” should be measured on the basis of collective accomplishments and group success if indeed one circle is even to be compared to another. Are the majority of the people you call your “crew” involved in daily tasks and activities that somehow contribute to the growth and productivity of the communities from where they stem? When others see your “crew” walking into a venue or standing side-by-side at a Sunday, rooftop party, are you all being greeted with looks of admiration and handshakes gripped in respect? There’s a huge difference between a crowd being physically attracted to most or all members that comprise a crew and that same crowd feeling drawn to each member as a result of their positive energy and personal vibes. This generation sometimes confuses the surface attention their circle of friends receives, with the levels of high regard that is often afforded to those who are making great, individual strides.

It’s so easy to get caught up in this whirlwind of group praise and adulation when people don’t fully understand who they are behind closed doors or what their purpose is in the world at large.

People who are constantly attaching themselves to other social groups, unable to walk outside alone or attend events without being seen with a slew of others are often dealing with issues of inferiority. Somehow, they don’t feel confident enough to face the world as a solo entity — in fear that their insecurities and weaknesses will be exposed on the front lines. It’s easier to hide our lack of confidence or pride in self behind the names and reputations that others have built and established for themselves. Individuals who often jump between social circles, hanging with this group today and that crew tomorrow – are usually in search of their own identity. Because they are unknowingly confused about what they want to do with their lives or how to create a plan to reach certain goals, they constantly ride the coattails of people who are seemingly powerful & revered. “MY CREW IS BETTER THAN YOUR CREW” is only as relevant as ones perception. When each person who comprises the crew isn’t able to stand on their own accomplishments and ride the wave of their solo merit, it echoes a very empty reality. When someone has to rely on the company they keep to cushion the shattered framework of their self-esteem, that individual has to begin building their internal strength.

When we force ourselves to engage in public and private activities that don’t involve the distractions of television, music, the internet or the presence of other people, we begin figuring out who we are at the core. The silent time we spend with ourselves allows buried thoughts to rise to the surface of our minds and hidden feelings to pump their way through the largest vessels in our hearts. We give ourselves the space and time to not only identify some of our pain, confusion, frustration and self-doubt, but we allow our minds to process methods in dealing with these internal battles. Constantly hanging out with the “crew” only creates a situation where we train ourselves to only feel comfortable and confident within group settings. Alone time then becomes a nightmare of sorts – igniting a fear of being with our own struggles and demons behind closed doors.

WHO ARE YOU WITHOUT YOUR CREW? Sit by the water for two to three hours on a Sunday afternoon with no ipod, ipad or partner alongside you. Patiently wait and allow the tides to turn on your mind. The answer can only be uncovered when an individual separates themselves from the outside world, and deals with the mental and emotional layers of their stripped down character. It may be uncomfortable but it IS necessary.

Forgiveness Does Not Require Me To Be Your Friend

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promoinsertOne of the toughest parts of adulthood is probably letting go of people who once upon a time we assumed would exist forever – having to make a final decision to cut off a relationship that has begun to create stress, sadness and personal anguish. We sometimes battle with a sense of guilt for ending these friendships, regardless of how miserable or one-sided they’ve become. And its simply because this individual has existed alongside us for so many years. We naively convince ourselves that if someone has acted amongst our circle as a long-term friend, then somehow that’s the role this person is “supposed” to always play in our lives.

Time and time again, we leave from spending time with this person or interacting with them over the phone, and there’s a consistent feeling of frustration. You sense that the two of you are growing apart, but somehow, you can’t pinpoint why the closeness or even comfort level in being in their company has changed. Then, as you begin to replay the past few months or recent years over in your head, things become a bit more clear.

For a little too long now, you’ve been making excuses in order to keep this “friend” in your life. Their time expired quite some time ago, but in order to have them around, you’ve allowed yourself to suffer – to play backseat to their selfish ways, inconsiderate decisions, sneaky behavior and dismissive attitudes.

Over the past few months, your friend has not been physically or emotionally as present for you as you have always been for them. Their go-to reason or explanation continues to be the fact that they are “going through stuff” or don’t feel like being around people and simply need space to think. And that would be understandable if the two of you were merely associates, but you never shut this friend out of your life when you too were going through your own dark moments and personal storms. You’ve never told this friend NO, regardless of how tired you were when unexpectedly they asked you to pick them up from the airport at 2:00am or needed to borrow twenty dollars when you were down to your last few coins.

We try to pretend that it doesn’t bother us when we learn more about our friend from circulating rumors and second hand stories than we’ve actually heard directly from their mouth. The tid-bits of information that we have managed to squeeze from our friend as of lately have been riddled in half-truth and flat out lies. Whenever you’ve tried to have a heart-to-heart conversation simply to make sure they are doing okay or surviving day to day, the invites are blown off and the phone calls go unanswered. The friendship has become nothing more than you holding on to the last few straws that keep the two of you bound.

Your feelings are hurt. You are tired of fighting for someone who not only has given up on the relationship and bond the two of you have established, but they’ve ultimately given up on themselves. While you are forging forward in life and trying to carve a future that mirrors the dreams you’ve always envisioned, they are spending their days sprawled across the living room sofa playing Xbox. Never once do they ask anymore about how you are feeling or inquire about your day-to-day activities. They express little to no interest in your recent accomplishments in school, on your job or even the new happenings that frame your personal life. Things have honestly reached the point where you question whether or not your friend even still loves or cares about you.

So, you’ve made the difficult decision to remove yourself from the situation – because that is what the friendship has become; a difficult, frustrating situation. You’ve been mistreated for so long at this point that you no longer have the energy to even send one of your, “just checking on you” or “we really need to talk” text messages.

And, you’re not mad at your friend necessarily, but you expected to be treated with a bit more respect after all of these years and between all of those memories and above every moment you pushed your personal shit aside to be the light your friend may have needed. So now you’ve moved on, and you’re not going to allow this friend or any other to make you feel unappreciated ever again.

You do not have to still like someone or even desire that the individual remain in your personal life in order to move beyond a situation. In most circumstances, forgiveness is instant. However, trust must be built and restored over time. There is no parallel between forgiving someone for your own sake and being forced to offer them the same level of relationship that existed previously.

Forgiveness simply means that we have accepted the fault or flaw in ones actions and we no longer hold a slate of anger or malice towards them. Our hearts and our spirits are free of the resentment that once dictated our every thought or feeling regarding this other individual. Once we have successfully rid ourselves of the ill feelings we carried as a result of how someone mistreated us, it’s then important to make that person earn your friendship back. You gave them everything the first time and their assumption that you’d always be around resulted in them taking advantage of your friendship and your heart. WELL… NOT THIS TIME.

 

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COMING SOON: “LOVE, DATING & RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN MEN“:

The iPhone Group Chat Live (Washington DC) — Sunday, August 16, 2015

to be exclusively released via youtube.com/XemVanAdams, XemSays.com & XemSays.tumblr.com

between 8pm EST — 9pm EST

I Introduced Them Once & Now They’re Suddenly “Best Friends”

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As adults, we often find ourselves embarrassed to admit we are jealous of the fact that one of our closest friends is randomly spending increased time with someone whom we casually introduced them to. One of your associates doesn’t have plans one Friday evening after work, so you invite them to join you and one of your best friends for happy hour. The evening begins with a flow of tequila shots and rounds of half-off, cocktails from the bar. As the evening progresses, the three of you decide to check out one of the downtown clubs that is launching their seasonal, “First Friday’s” event. Since you are the one most familiar with the clubs location, you volunteer to drive. Your friend and associate leave their cars parked outside of the bar. The three of you arrive to the club, dance the night away and end up staying out together until two-thirty, early Saturday morning. You’ve had the least to drink, so you’re automatically elected as the sober driver amongst the group. Your friend and associate are sprawled across the backseat together, but not totally passed out. The two of them are laughing at one another, singing to the top of their lungs, yelling jibberish out of the back windows and simply enjoying the last moments of your night out together. You make the decision that your friend and associate are not sober enough to drive their own cars home. As a result, you hop on the highway that leads straight to your house. Later that Saturday morning, you’re preparing breakfast in the kitchen as your friend and associate are recovering from hangovers on the sofa and couch in your living room. The two of them are exchanging words and quick phrases with one another about the fun you all shared the night before. You overhear them asking one another about their jobs and relationship statuses – sort of the things that never came up in conversation at the bar or the nightclub. After breakfast, you drop both your friend and associate off at their cars. You casually mention that the three of you should definitely get together sometime soon for ROUND TWO of what was certainly a good time had by all. Your friend and associate agree. The three of you go your separate ways and don’t see or hear from one another for the remainder of the weekend.

 

SO YOU THINK…

 

On Monday morning, you log into your work computer at the start of the day. The first thing you do is check your social media pages simply to see if there are any new photos or status updates that have been posted by the people you’re closest to. The first picture you see posted at the top of your Facebook feed is a shot of your best friend and associate sitting at the bar the three of you attended on Friday night – the same bar you introduced them to for the first time. You realize that they’re both wearing different clothes than the outfits that they were wearing Friday night. Then, you look at the date and caption beneath the picture. It’s marked for Saturday night. Your best friend and associate went back to the bar together without texting or calling to invite you along. Immediately, you catch an attitude. In your mind you’re thinking, “when did they even exchange phone numbers?” – “why did my best friend above all people not ask me to come with them?” – “what the hell?! I’m the one who even told them about the new bar!”

When you ask your best friend why you weren’t invited to head back to the bar on Saturday night, your friend dismisses your inquiry by simply saying, “you know how you are. You wouldn’t have wanted to go drinking two nights in a row.” And in your mind, you know that your best friend is being honest and factual, but it still irritates you that you weren’t at least given the option to decline the offer. As the next few weeks pass by, you find yourself growing increasingly annoyed by the fact that the two individuals you casually introduced, are now regularly hanging out with one another, without you.

 

You find yourself beginning to remove yourself from associating with both your best friend and your associate. You intentionally avoid liking their status messages or photos on social media, and you refuse to reach out to either of them to invite yourself along on their now, weekly outings. The one or two times that the associate or best friend have asked you to join them, you’ve been too “in your feelings” to accept the offer. A part of you is jealous and bothered by their newfound friendship, but you’re also feeling embarrassed that their relationship is making you feel like the outcast. You have not expressed your resentment, hurt feelings or annoyance with either of them.

 

You should not be embarrassed. Your feelings are valid and quite normal. Often times, when our close friend begins hanging closely with someone new, it does tend to make us feel replaced. We begin to assume that the new bond is more important or more significant to our best friend than the relationship we’ve developed with them over years. We begin to wonder if our friend is having more fun with the new individual. Those thoughts then put us into a space of feeling insecure, questioning our worth and doubting the position we presently play alongside the friend we’ve known and loved since what feels like forever.

 

It is so important, however, to remember that real friendships FRAME our lives. The frame is rarely broken or replaced. However, within that frame, the picture is constantly changing. Sometimes, the picture requires a scene that illustrates your best friend sitting in the corner engrossed in family problems, relationship issues and financial debt. You may not be included in that particular scene right away because your friend is choosing to handle their personal issues alone. Another scene may require that your friend be painted in the center of the picture with a love interest sitting beside them. You are included in this scene, but positioned far off to the right of the portrait. You are positioned as being present, but only when called upon as needed. And in the scene where your friend is learning to explore the world outside of their comfort zone with you, the picture may be painted to include your friend standing outside, alongside a new individual who looks totally opposite from you.

 

It simply becomes necessary that you remind yourself that you are a part of the FRAME. The frame keeps the illustration solid and standing. Regardless of how the picture changes in your friend’s life, he or she will always need you and call upon you to help them keep the picture in place.

You do not have to always be a part of the scene or illustration in order for your presence and friendship to be known or embraced.

 

 

I Now Regret Letting My Best Friend Move In With Me When He Had Nowhere Else To Go

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Hello Xem. My name is Andrew. I don’t mind if you share this letter on your website because at this point I am extremely fed up. I have been a fan of yours since 2010 and I very much respect your point of view on the different issues you discuss with us. I don’t want to take up too much of your time because I know you get so many of these requests on a regular basis. So to keep it nice and sweet, I am at the point where I feel my friendship with one of my best friends is in jeopardy. He has been living with me since March in my one bedroom apartment and it doesn’t seem that he is making attempts to move out. He lost his job around Christmas and began borrowing money from us to pay his bills, so we thought (there are 3 of us who have known each other since high school). He told us that he was going to be receiving unemployment and would pay us back once the checks began coming in after the processing period. He said that would be in January. Well, we come to find out that he used the money he borrowed not to pay his rent or other bills in full, but to still buy gifts for other people. Then, when the new year came around he was trying to play catch up on his car note and gas and electric and rent. So, none of us (the 3 friends) knew that he was borrowing money from all of us. Something happened with the unemployment whereas he wasn’t able to receive the checks. I guess he started receiving eviction notices in March and his car company even began calling me looking for him because he was so behind on his car note. I became really concerned and because I love him like a brother I offered him to come stay with me until he could get back on his feet. I’m a bank manager, so I know that we do summer hires every year that most often turn into full time positions. I arranged for my best friend to interview in April for one of the three teller positions that was opening in June. I basically tailored his resume so that his skills would fit the teller position requirements. Everything was arranged for a Wednesday afternoon. I even allowed him to drop me off at work using my car that day, go back to the apartment, get dressed later in the day and come in for the 1pm interview. He never showed!!! I thought something happened to him so I began panicking and calling him and our other friends. He was asleep the entire time!!! This has become who he is now. He sleeps through the entire day and is up throughout the night blasting the television or asking to use my car before I go to bed. When I give him leads for different positions that are opening in different places he doesn’t follow through by faxing his resume. I have a fax machine and scanner at my apartment, so he doesn’t need to venture out to an Office Max or anything.

I also don’t feel that he respects my things. He sleeps in my living room every night, but he doesn’t fold the sheets or blankets or fix the couch when he wakes up. He doesn’t clean out the bathtub once he takes a shower or even do anything for that matter. Our other friends warned me to not allow him to move in with me but he honestly had nowhere else to go. His parents moved to Texas two years ago and that’s when he moved out into his own place here. His sister is away at college in Minnesota, but goes home to Texas during her breaks and we (the 3 of us) are basically his other family so to speak. I’m the one who welcomed him into the house, so how can I ask him to leave now? I know he is unmotivated right now and probably depressed in certain ways, but when I try to even talk to him he doesn’t want to discuss anything. I think it would push him over the edge if I asked him to leave, but our other friends are saying that he needs to hit rock bottom before he stands on his own. Do you agree with that and how would you handle this situation? I know I wrote more than I expected. Sorry. I hope you will still respond to me.

XEM SAYS…

I absolutely agree with how your circle of friends feel regarding your present living situation, and the circumstances that surround the mutual best friend. Your heart was obviously in the best place when you opened your home to someone who you consider to be a brother. He was facing hardship and you provided what should have been a temporary cushion to soften the heavy blows of life. However, you made the mistake of not setting rules and framing a timeline for your best friend to follow prior to moving into your home. While we’re sometimes unable to predict how long it will take for someone to “get on their feet”, I feel that allowing a friend to live in your home for 2-3 months is more than fair in aiding in their process to restructure their financial life. When we fail to set expiration or due dates, the people closest to us will subconsciously take advantage of that opening. We extend ourselves out of a pure love for a friend, but that friend becomes so comfortable that they begin to depend on our helping hands. You have created a situation for yourself where you are now taking care of your best friend, as opposed to your intention of helping him once again take care of himself.

If it truly isn’t in your heart or your spirit to send your best friend out into the street immediately, it is time that you give him a deadline to move out of your apartment. If he knows that he now only has until November 1st to find another place to live, I am confident that the deadline will light a fire beneath him to vigorously search for employment. Your best friend is obviously not a dead-beat, otherwise he would have never been able to maintain his own place or vehicle for the past two years. He certainly possesses marketable skills, as he held a full-time position prior to losing his job last December. So, the issue isn’t that he can’t find a job or a new place to live. The problem is that he has become complacent and refuses to move his feet.

In the meantime, you must also create basic rules to govern your household. Treat your best friend as if he is your roommate. In essence, that is your living situation for these final 2 months that you will allow him to live in your home. Make it clear to him that you need your rest at night and therefore, he needs to monitor the volume of the living room television. Give him the responsibility of cleaning the bathroom every Sunday and mopping floors or vacuuming on Saturdays. Sometimes, as this is true for a lot of men, they won’t initiate cleaning – but they will follow a routine of straightening up behind themselves when they are instructed to do so. Remind your best friend that even though he sleeps on your couch every night, that area isn’t considered his bedroom. Ask him to please fold the sheets and straighten the pillows each time he wakes up and starts his day.

If your best friend is offended by your deadline date or taken aback by the new rules you set in place, he will possibly leave on his own. You cannot feel guilty if he catches an attitude and decides to move out now. This grown man has lived with you, rent-free for the past six months. Honestly, you have already extended yourself beyond reasonable expectations. If he decides to stop speaking to you and continues to associate with the other friends who refused to let him live in their homes, then he doesn’t value your friendship. You have provided for him in ways that no one else was willing or able to do during these dark moments in his life. Though he may be depressed or frustrated at the hands of his present circumstances, he has also made you feel uncomfortable living in your own home. It’s unfair. A large part of maintaining a healthy friendship is being able to look at someone you care about and say, “HERE IS WHERE I DRAW THE LINE”. If they continue to cross those boundaries, that’s your cue to cross them out of your life.

Another Holiday Weekend Where My So Called Friends Didn’t Bother To Include Me In Their Group Plans

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As Labor Day Weekend is coming to a close, everyone has begun to upload their group photos from the local pool parties, different out of town excursions and final summer outings at the beach. Meanwhile, you are sitting behind your computer screen and suffering from feelings of rejection or dealing with other self-deprecating thoughts. As you’re seeing pics of fun times filtering through your social media timelines, it’s tough to not wonder, “Why was I not invited?” – Another holiday weekend passes by and all you’ve done is clean up, watch movies and order carry out for ONE.

It’s easy to begin questioning whether or not you’re to be considered socially awkward when you’ve spent three free days behind closed doors and no one in your life has bothered to call or text about making plans. Your friends who decided to stay in town never made mention about going out to eat or getting drinks at the downtown bar, and the guy you’re sort of dating never said anything about coming over to keep your company. As far as you were concerned, everyone was going to lay low, lounge around the house or maybe engage in family activities. However, seeing pictures of people you thought you were close to, hanging out with others you don’t even recognize has made you feel out of the loop. You aren’t necessarily angry or upset, as much as you have become frustrated by not being included in the group activities.

Often times, we see or hear about our friends spending time with their other associates and we make ourselves feel insecure about those relationships. We assume that we are being intentionally left out of “exclusive” outings. As a result, we force ourselves into this mode of questioning our friendship status with certain individuals. It rarely crosses our minds however, that no harm was meant by the parties involved that did not directly include us in their group plans. Circumstances simply created a moment where a circle of people came together for a social event and you were not in attendance. It may seem shady on the part of your good friend, but you have to keep a few situations in mind…

THE PLAN WAS SPONTANEOUS – Every outing isn’t scheduled or detailed ahead of time. Sometimes, plans fall through with one circle of people and your friend is invited to join their associates at the last minute. Since your friend isn’t close to the majority of the group they’re being asked to hangout with, it would be inappropriate for him or her to simply invite you to come along. Their intention may have been to stay in the house the entire weekend. However, your friend never said that they wouldn’t go out if an opportunity presented itself. Did you make any suggestions to your friend for you both to see a matinee movie together or to randomly grab a cocktail on some uptown rooftop? NO.

THE OUTING HAD AN UNSPOKEN OPEN INVITATION – Sometimes, our friends assume that if they are hosting a cookout, movie night or game party at their place, you automatically know that you’re invited. Since the two of you have known one another for so long, your friend doesn’t always deem it necessary to formally ask you to come over or stop by. If you understand the dynamics of your relationship with certain people, the ones you are closest to consider you family. Family is usually the first to arrive with helping hands and possibly a homemade dish as well.

YOU DON’T GET ALONG WITH A PARTICULAR GROUP OF PEOPLE – Your friend has decided to attend an event where the majority of the attendees will be a group of individuals you don’t like or enjoy mixing with. On numerous occasions, you’ve made it clear that you don’t want to be present in the company of certain people your friend hangs around. Keeping this in mind, your friend didn’t even bother to mention the plans because they knew based on past experiences that you’d be uncomfortable or annoyed. YOU SAID IT.

IT WAS ASSUMED THAT YOU ALREADY KNEW ABOUT THE PLANS – Your friend sent out an Evite via email or created a Facebook Event. The digital invitation was sent to you along with everyone else days in advance. Somehow, between your busy schedule and other responsibilities, you had not been able to check your online inboxes. You can be bothered by the fact that you missed the party, but you can’t be angry at the host for not personally calling or texting to invite you. We are adults living in an age where most people plan casual get-togethers online.

YOU NEVER SHOW UP ANY OTHER TIME SO WHY SHOULD THIS EVENT BE ANY DIFFERENT? – We tend to exclude ourselves from group activities so often that our friends become too frustrated to even make mention of an upcoming party or get together. While your second job, romantic relationship or financial obligations don’t always allow you to hangout, the people around you become use to your absence. When the invitation list is being created, it’s assumed that you won’t be able to attend for one reason or another. The fact that you’ve missed the past three or four outings makes people think that you’re too busy or preoccupied to participate. Begin making yourself more available to socialize in public and your name may inch itself back to the top of the invitee list.

Most often, it is a harmless misunderstanding between friends that results in one person not being formally invited to attend an event, or another individual never hearing about a particular outing. However, we can’t rely upon our friends or other people to fill the voids in our lives. While being left out of group events or holiday weekend plans can be hurtful, our happiness or sense of comfort should never depend upon inclusion in social circles or other activities. It is the responsibility of the individual to engage themselves in solo tasks and hobbies that are just as entertaining behind closed doors, as hanging out with other people in public. Create situations for yourself where the absence of an invitation cannot create a hole in your attitude, mood or demeanor.