Standing in the middle of a desolate Parisienne street, so deep into the night it was morning, my friend and I converse with five strangers. We stand in a circle, waiting for our Uber after a night at Nouveau Casino. Singing, dancing, delighting in stories from whatever walks of life we’d derived from; an onlooker would assume we were long time companions. Everyone was so international, it looked like a United Colors Of Benetton ad. They wanted to exchange information to hang out at a later date. With great displeasure we informed them we’d be back in America by then. I thought about all the rejected invitations to homes in different countries, parties and events.

In America it’s very ‘no new friends’ ‘that’s my best friend, not yours.’ Tribal, valuing the length of the relationship over the quality. Whereas Europe’s like ‘hey cool vibe, let’s go on an adventure and see what happens.’ Europeans have this exquisite way of socializing as individuals, who want an experience with others. There isn’t this pressure of loyalties that rival gangs. So many times I’ve had to choose one friendship over another, due to some cataclysmic dispute. Despite my having no involvement, I was forced to pledge my allegiance to one side, or another.

This way of living resonates with me immensely. I wasn’t going to let my friends dictate my activities, I wasn’t going to snub someone over the ego battles of someone else, I didn’t have to explain my life choices, that I want to live out my dreams as an entrepreneur, not work to build someone else’s dream. It’s common in our culture to ignore all the red flags, just because we’ve known someone for 10 years. Before France I would place the groups happiness over my own. Finally I started setting boundaries, no it isn’t okay that you got drunk and tried to head butt me. Yes, I do want to hang out with Tamica. Drawing lines in the sand lost me a lot of ‘friends’, but if that’s the case, they were never my friends to begin with. Anyone who doesn’t respect your boundaries, doesn’t respect you. Now I am an independent person, who has experiences with others without the unhealthy ‘ride or die’ duties attached.