Updated: Aug 14
Friends. Since the time we are old enough to be aware of others, we are searching for friends. When we are a little older, friends can seem like they are more important than family. Sometimes, we are driven to find the 'right' friends, even if they are not always 'right' for us. We go through transitions. As life continues to evolve, so do our friendships. Friends we thought would be friends forever, sometimes get forgotten and names are hard to recall, while with others, the bond is so deep neither that time, life circumstance, or distance changes anything and time together only reinforces the fact that we are- to borrow a line from Anne of Green Gables, "kindred spirits."
When I started making friends, the only criteria was that they were in the same place as me: at the park, the same campground as my family, in my class at school.
Later, my criteria changed as I noticed who was popular. It didn't matter so much that we had anything in common- only that I was 'liked' by others and the wonderful sameness that teenagers want to be- just like the other kids- normal.- whatever that is. As a result- not all of my good friends were good friends, and it took me a while to figure that out. As I grew older and got married, my friends became the moms in the playground and as I experienced different things in life, I made friends who shared the same experiences. As we find people who like us, we also experience people who do not. When I was a young mother, one person wrote me a letter to tell me exactly that, with detailed reasons I was so objectionable. I realized that I needed to accept that as wonderful as I was, not everyone would like me - and isn't that fair? I don't like everyone I meet- so why hold others to a standard I don't live by. We will all take our own path to find 'our people.'
There are many kinds of friends. There are friends that know the good, the bad, and the ugly. I have a few friends that I have known since birth. As life took us in all sorts of directions, our communications are unfortunately infrequent. But when we talk, the feeling of being with someone in which you don't have to explain yourself or your life is soul anchoring. When you talk about things that are happening in your lives now- they can listen in a way that defines true understanding. They know you, know where you come from, how you have changed your strengths and weaknesses. Tied by the childhood games you would play, scraped knees, shared experiences, the fights you had that in a day tore your friendship apart, and put it back together even stronger- this history serves as an unbreakable bond.
There are my friends I made as Rich and I have moved around the country. Meant to be friends, as if you knew them in another life before. You understand that you were already friends and you are just picking up where you left off and move on into the future together.
And there are friends in which you have nothing in common. They are the ones you work for. Maybe they start because you really want to know what makes them tick. You do the hard work-arrange for times to meet and things to do. Ask a lot of questions and on the way, you find you are 'kindred spirits'. One of my best friends is one who I didn't like at first. I felt intimidated by her and didn't relate to her thinking at all. As these things go, we were asked to work together on something and it gave me the opportunity to get to know her, her tender heart, and all the amazing things that made her who she was. It also gave me the opportunity to understand her history- to know what had shaped her, her thoughts, and the way she looked at the world. We were good for each other- each helping each other see life through a different lens- broadening our worlds and perspective. In our differences, we found laughter, tears, and a deep understanding, respect, and love for each other.
Sometimes finding friends seems elusive and hard. Especially through the transitions in life: single, married, having children, growing older, moving to a new place. However, if we can take a step back and think about it - there are some good ways to find friends. First, be yourself and don't settle for less of a friendship than you deserve. And second, be a friend to yourself. During those teenage/young adults and sometimes adult years, we spend so much time trying to 'conform' so that people will like us, we sometimes forget to learn that real friendships can only last if we are true to ourselves - who we are and what we like to do, how we think about the world, all the things that makes us- us. Too often we forget how amazing we are and get caught up in a circle of comparison and self-judgment. Until we are true to ourselves, who we are, and stop trying to 'conform'- our people cannot find us. Relaxing, getting comfortable in our skin leads to friendships that will shape you and your life- for your entire life.
This need for friends is universal. What is it about women that drive us to want and need friendships? I use this quote in my book and every chance I get. "Women need women. Oh, how we need each other. Those of us who are old need you who are young. And, hopefully, you who are young need some of us who are old. It is a sociological fact that women need women. We need deep and satisfying and loyal friendships with each other. These friendships are a necessary source of sustenance." Research backs this up. It has been proven that our friendships help us feel nurtured and validated. In short- again- Women Need Women.
C.S. Lewis said, "It's not the load that weighs you down, it's the way you carry it." True friends help carry our load, help us to see things in another perspective, appreciate us for ourselves, ignore the awkward things we say that don't come out right, defend us even when we are wrong, tell us the truth when it's hard to hear, stick with us and, show love through times so hard we have nothing to give back. I am amazed to this day and so grateful for the friends in my life that have done all of that.
There is a friendship song I learned when I was a little girl. It starts out:
Make new friends but keep the old. One is silver, the other is gold. "
I never really understood that. I thought all friends - old and new are gold- but if you read the rest of the lyrics; it explains friendship in a wonderful way.
"A circle is round, it has no end. That's how long I will be your friend.
A fire burns bright, it warms the heart. We've been friends from the very start.
You have one hand; I have the other. Put them together, we have each other."
Friends, Best Friends, Bestest Friends, Besties- we need them all.