Tuesday Tangents – Friendship
Today I want to talk about something that I think gets pushed aside a lot, but is really important to make more of a priority – good friendships. Now I want to preface this post by saying that I really do have some of the best friends that I could ever ask for and that I love dearly, but I think we all crave that inner circle where the women are best friends, the men are best friends, the couples get together all the time for dinner parties, eventually you have kids at the same time and they become friends, and everyone is totally happy. Those people that live on your block that you can just wander into their house for any reason – whether to borrow a couple eggs to make cookies, to have a glass of wine with, or just to talk to simply because you felt like it. Like on Desperate Housewives 😉
I have a really broad range of friends right now – ones that I have known since kindergarten, my high school best friends, old college roommates, sorority sisters, current or former co-workers, and a few others that I have met randomly along the way. I also definitely count my sisters in this category. Sometimes one of the most difficult parts about having so many different friend groups is bringing them all together. Isn’t a party so much more fun when everybody knows each other, is comfortable, and doesn’t have to worry about being awkward? Or maybe that’s just me, but I’m really convinced I’m not the only one who struggles with this. As we get older and spend more and more time at work and with our growing families, it’s sometimes extremely difficult to make time for our friends. It can even feel like an item we should add to our to-do list, which is the worst way ever to look at it (something I am totally guilty of doing). So I think that sometimes when it gets hard to bring all your friends together or to make time for all of them individually, we just don’t even try.
From personal experience and from a lot of books I have read (most recently those by Shauna Niequist that I have been obsessed with), the common theme is that when we do not prioritize our friendships in favor of work, romantic relationships, daily tasks, and others, we lose out on one of the most beautiful parts of life that we were meant to go through with other people – not alone. For me, as a really shy introvert when I am in a situation where I don’t know someone well, it is one of the hardest things in the world to sometimes force myself out of the house to go be social. But every time I do it, I come home feeling way better than when I had left and am so glad I made myself go. I’m really not sure if there is ever a way to change and be excited for social activities, but as long as I’m going and not bailing on them, it’s good enough for me. Especially because I know how happy I will be that I went and how relieved I will be that none of my irrational fears came true (because they never do). And even better that I have friends that like to hang out at home and eat snacks and drink wine and watch The Bachelor as much as I do 🙂
It has taken me a lot of years to learn which friends are ones I should be investing my time in and ones that I definitely should not. It is very appealing to sometimes befriend people for two main reasons: (1) because circumstantially we feel like we should (due to a work or living situation maybe) or (2) because we want to be like them. And both of these reasons are totally wrong and destined for failure. In her book Bittersweet, Shauna Niequist writes about having a “home team.” These are the core people (outside of family) that you would do just about anything for. She says that it is better to invest everything you have in these people instead of giving a little bit to everybody you know and in turn, depleting yourself and not showing your “home team” how important they really are to you. I really resonate with this concept for many reasons. I have this terrible (?) curse that I feel guilty for just about everything I do (or don’t do). If I say too much, I feel like I made a fool of myself. If I don’t do enough, I fear people think I am lazy and uninterested. It’s a vicious circle that never ends and is increasingly annoying. This really especially comes to play in my friendships.
Lately it has been very important to me to remember that my friends are in my life for one main reason – because they want to be. Am I proud of how many times over the years I have been the catalyst for friendships fading away? No, but I am glad that it happened, because it taught me that if I don’t want someone to be in my life, I just phase them out. They say that the people you spend most of your time with are a big part of shaping the person you become. And I want to only become better, so I want to surround myself with people who will help me get there. My friends are in the same situation. So it’s really silly for me to think that these people who I see every week, laugh with all the time, text every day, and love dearly don’t want to be my friend. But am I going to be able to stop doing it? Probably not, because I am a little but of a nut.
With all this being said, I can summarize it into a couple of key points:
Friendships are really, really important. Cherish them. Make time for them. Understand that cultivating them and keeping them strong is not simply another to-do list item.
Give your all to those closest to you. Be kind to those in your outer circle, but don’t think you have to be able to give as much to them as you do to your best friends and family.
Remember to keep the people in your life that make you better. And also remember that people are in your life because they want to be. If they don’t want to be, they will leave.
And to end all this, I just want to say that one of my girlfriends and I went to go see Beauty and the Beast last night and then went to a wine bar next door for riesling and a cheese plate. Not much makes me happier than that. 🙂
Do you have a couple of really close friends, a ton of pretty good friends, or something in between?