I’ve been hesitant on writing this piece. First I wanted to make sure that I wouldn’t offend anyone with it. Then I wanted others to validate it (my thoughts and feelings) before I posted it because I was sure I would offend those who knew me.
This morning though…I just decided, “What the heck???” If it doesn’t make sense, that’s okay. It’s one of those pieces I need to get out and then I’ll think about it later.
I’m just going to step out on my new-found courage and talk about something that has been bothering me for quite a while and that’s what it’s felt like being the “ugly friend”. It’s not that people close to me have ever called me ugly but for the most part, a lot of the folks I relied on or were close to never really affirmed me as a person. It was usually “Ceaux is smart.” and “CoCo is so smart.” and for a LONG time, I really thought that was all I had going for me.
The tricky thing about being smart while being a Black woman is that you usually encounter that “angry black woman” attitude when you speak up. So as long as you stay quiet even if you get the right answer or pass a test, you are fine. I have so much that I could say on this but that isn’t what this post is about.
No…this post is about a few realizations I’ve come to since turning 27. I’ll start by saying that most of the feelings I have stem from the fact that I was never confident about speaking up to people when they’ve done something I didn’t like. That led to a lot of settling in both friendships and “relationships.” It also led to a lot of abuse, manipulation, and just a lot of “not right.” More than anything though, it led to me wondering why people treated me differently than they treated others. And here is where the “Ugly Friend” complex was born.
Now, up until about last year, I didn’t realize how many other people found me attractive and would let me know in a respectful way. I’ve dealt with quite a bit of folks who have that “it’s okay to like you and tell you but never take you anywhere” mentality…and I’ve had friends who encouraged this behavior of others. These same “friends” would try to convince me that “Girl! So-and-so really really really likes you and let me tell you why!” and then relay a story that would ultimately leave me wondering, “Do they not know how hurtful this is?” Then I had friends that would basically get upset and then let me know exactly how much of an inconvenience I was to them. After a while, it just affirmed what I already thought about myself based on my home life and some of my relationships with relatives.
But recently, and I mean as recent as two weeks ago, I’ve started to think about what’s it meant to be the “ugly friend”…and what happens when you decide to no longer play that role? Lately, I’ve met quite a few people who treat me drastically different from some of the folks I’ve known for years and it’s given me a new way to think about myself. I even once made the comment to someone I know that I didn’t like going places with them because they were gorgeous. Their response, while absolutely affirming, led to the embarrassing realization that I didn’t think too highly of myself and I have settled for relationships where folks didn’t think highly of me either. Now I feel like I’m at another crossroad because I don’t want to lose some of my old friends (I like them; they are good people) but I don’t want to continue those relationships feeling the same way.
So…the “ugly friend” role that I played doesn’t exist anymore. And I’m okay with that.
I even wore a bikini to the beach (for the first time in my life).
*Ugly Friend here doesn’t mean someone who is not attractive. I just use it to mean someone who isn’t treated as nicely, usually the person that people joke on and generally wonders if people who are their friends truly mean them well.