The Box Your Friends Put You In Is Hurting You

by Tanisha Carter


THE ____ ONE

There is nothing like the blessing of a friendship. To be apart of a group of kindred spirits that share common interests, but are nothing like you is one of the greatest gifts of life. Cultivating and nurturing bonds to sustain a lifetime with the family that we get to choose. And as these unions blossom, we notice quirks that each friend possess….


The Strong One



The Funny One



The Dramatic One



The Lit One


Subconsciously, we place ourselves and others into specific roles identified as “The ____ One”. We don’t do this with malicious intent, , but as a bonding mechanism as the group continues to share experiences together, but could this ‘nickname’ be detrimental to your personal growth?


The boxes that others put us in becomes who we are instead of apart of who we are. Subtly, our everyday actions begin to mimic the attributes of “The ____ One”. Eventually, we begin to resent those parts of ourselves as well as our peers forever creating the box in the first place. When in reality, we’re the only ones allowing the “boxing” to take place. In other cases, we’ve become content in the boxes others have put us in. Never challenging ourselves to become more than just “a one”. And there are times when we are challenged by others for trying to make the change outside of being the dramatic one. Those moments when we pull ourselves out of the box and make a real effort to not be the serious one, but are given the side eye for making one too many jokes;  “You’re not the funny one!”.


So what are some practical ways to “unbox” ourselves and others while keeping our friendships tight and our mental stress low?

  1. Assume Responsibility. When it comes to self-analysis and making real change in our lives, the first step is to be responsible for our own change. Oftentimes we look outside of ourselves for a savior, but we can not break someone else’s narrative of ourselves if we are not creating our own. Assume responsibility for your life!

  1. Encourage Expression. With friends and everyone you meet, encourage them to be expressive in any way they choose. If someone seems closed off, create an atmosphere that makes them feel comfortable enough to not be “the strong one”. Most times, you won’t have to say much your effort will do the talking.

  1. Ice Breaker Games. This sounds crazy, I know. “Why would I need to play icebreaker games with my besties?”. Because we are ever-evolving! Get to know your friends again. Nothing beats a fun game night with your besties and discovering their evolving interests.

  1. Just Be. Allow your friends to be the multi-faceted being that they are. That we all are!  In essence, we are all the strong, funny, dramatic and lit one. No one is monolithic or one size only. Allow your friends to have the space to spread their wings and in return, they will do the same for you.



About The Author

Tanisha Carter is a Richmond, VA based poet using her weekly podcast, The Honey Files and self-directed show, Yeye: A One-Woman Journey, to assist in the collective efforts to change the narrative of black people involving issues such as women's rights, cultural/self-awareness, and community. Find her at @thehoneyfilespodcast and @_tanishacarter