Finding True Friends: I Quit Trying To Fit In

Janet Bernstein
By Janet Bernstein |Carrollton, TX

Yep, I’ve been called bossy, pushy, aggressive and harsh. I have been asked to tone myself down, refrain from sharing my true personality or even hide my opinions from others. I worked in a corporate environment for more than 15 years, and it seemed as though I was always juggling between being a confident, leaning-in-executive with a big smile and an impressive track record, with the woman who just wanted to help others, affect change and make a difference. Apparently I couldn’t be both in this black and white world. I had to fit into a box to be accepted. The funny thing about it… I still wasn’t truly accepted even when I tried to fit into those boxes.

So I quit.

I quit trying to fit in. I quit trying to appeal to everyone. I took a step back from it all and decided to just be myself and take a chance on the ones I might attract or repel. It was glorious. I felt free and empowered to say whatever I wanted and do whatever I felt necessary to follow my heart and stick to my integrity. I stopped censoring my opinions and started speaking up when I saw an injustice or felt I needed to stick up for a friend. I was un-friended on Facebook, un-followed by those who simply couldn’t handle my level of transparency or vulnerability. (Truth be told, I don’t really know the reasons, but since they didn’t confront me personally, I choose to speculate. Ha!)

I’m certainly not perfect, nor do I pretend to be. I fully embrace my bossy self and own it. Something truly incredible happened, though, once I stopped hiding the real me. I found my tribe. I found a sisterhood of incredible women who would defend me when I needed it and encourage me when I felt like it was an uphill battle. Sure, I lost a few “friends” along the way, but now I truly understand the meaning of the word “friend.” It’s not the people who tell us what we want to hear or support everything we believe or do. True friends are the ones who listen when you have to deliver constructive criticism. They’re the ones who aren’t afraid to tell you when you’ve hurt their feelings, and they are the ones who freely apologize when they hurt yours.

If they don’t value your feelings, they aren’t true friends. Keep searching.

Janet Bernstein
Janet Bernstein |Carrollton, TX
Janet Bernstein spent 17 years in the corporate world, and was the youngest founding partner of AmeriCap Insurance Agency in Addison, Texas. Upon leaving her partnership in October 2015, she launched her own business, Savvy Girl Media, where she helps women entrepreneurs and business owners share their stories online through blogging, social media, website content creation, photography and more. She is the current North Dallas Circle Leader for Plaid for Women. In addition, she is the co-founder of the Every Heart Project, providing workshops, retreats, resources, mentoring and relationship building for their members. She is a best-selling author, executive coach, published photographer, singer/songwriter and speaker.