As a 21 year old student about to start my senior year of college, I am coming to terms with no longer being financially supported by my mother. AHHH! Very scary, atleast for those of us who have never given real thought to the prospect of real I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-C-E. Sooo...instead of crying over this realization (as I probably would have done about 3 years ago lol), I decided to be strategic about it. I immediately jumped on that social networking site called facebook which is literally the one thing that keeps me "in touch" with people I've met in college that have long since graduated and moved on with their lives, and I sent them thank you messages. I wrote a list of all the people I met while interning this summer and sent them messages as well. After doing this I felt so much better! By focusing on the blessings I had and reflecting on how much I appreciated the good they had contributed to my life, being on my own didn't seem so daunting anymore. These individuals were just a few years older than myself and had to experience senior year anxiety as well. They survived it, and most importantly, could help guide me through it. Within hours, I got responses from a little over half of who I wrote to, and even a few offered to give me a place to stay after I graduated.
A bigger point that I want to express, is the importance of creating the social network that you ABSOLUTELY NEED when you are on your own. Trust me, you will be a happier person when you make that extra effort to cultivate friendships with people. BUT! With each person you meet, I believe you have to evaluate whether or not this person could make a valuable contribution to your life in the same capacity you could to their's. Don't give your best self away all willy nilly to individuals who could care less about you. You usually find this out given a little time and observation of their actions toward you.
I can honestly say that I grew up with a fairly close immediate family (mom, dad, siblings) but my extended family (aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents) is literally shot. There is no contact at all in that arena, and it does hurt to see other people who benefit from having strong HEALTHY ties with extended family members that often leads to opportunities career-wise, socially, etc. I came to the conclusion that having a distant family was not for me. I know that in order to have the type of family I would like, I have to make an effort in creating that family by opening myself to deserving individuals who intend to support and encourage me to live the best life I possibly can. I also know that having hang-ups on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and the like could hinder my chances of having that family.
Are young black women of today actively cultivating meaningful relationships with individuals that could be great potential members of their support system? Do you already have a support system that just needs a little tweaking (how about that great professor you had in high school, or your former manager, or the upper classman that gave you great advice before they graduated)? Send them a HELLO! and a THANK YOU! What do you want for yourself 5 to 10 years from now regarding relationships with people? How are you working toward that?