Friendship: Revisited

After re-reading a post that is 14 years old it made me realize that I’ve always held friends in an esteemed place. These are my views on friendship and my commonalities may not be across the board. Maybe you really struggle making friends or choose not to have any. Maybe you’ve never put friends ahead of family, but take this with a grain of salt.

I’ve mentioned in a previous blog that as a child you’ll befriend pretty much anyone. If you’re the same age as another child you’re best friends. If you see a child walk by your house as a kid, you’re best friends. It’s that easy. Even being a different species doesn’t usually matter you’ll still call an animal your friend. Maybe even a few inanimate objects, and let’s not forget those children who have imaginary friends.

As a teenager your view on friendship changes. You’re in high school and you’re going through a lot more and choosing your friend group is like choosing your tribe of people. It is often during this time that you’re more inclined to put your friends ahead of your family. I feel like this is a very common troupe among teens. It’s your first time meeting people out and about that aren’t part of your family.

You’re parents don’t tend to set up play-dates when you are a teenager, it’s your opportunity to go OUT with your friends. You find yourself opening up to everyone. Finding your clique is a hard thing in high school and that’s usually what you do. You find a group you fit into, even if you don’t fit into a group you’ll fit in with the others who don’t fit in. It gives you an opportunity to sample many different lifestyles and you unknowingly pick up habits and expressions from your friends and the other people you spend time with.

After you graduate from School you are no longer thrust into a large group of people your age sharing classes and assignments and having a whole lot to discuss. You went from seeing the same people every single day to not seeing them hardly at all. It is around this age that your friend group tends to get smaller and tends to grow more diverse.

There are no longer 15 of you all around the same age taking up several tables in a food court, discussing teachers and assignment and other kids in your class. Now you and three of your friends are going out for a meal and a couple of drinks to catch up because it’s been a while. It continues like this for years. As an adult you tend to have more acquaintances and less Friends. If you’re lucky when you meet a good friend you keep them in your life forever and no amount of time passed can change the friendship. Even after several years you can meet up with a good friend and it can feel like not a single day has passed.

I wrote in my Classic Post:

Once the package of friendship has been opened, it can never be closed…it is a constant book always written…waiting to be read…and enjoyed.

I no longer agree with this sentiment. Now that I’m almost twice as old as I was then I’ve learned a few things. Some of those friendships need to be closed. The book ends, and you put it on a shelf. I still have photos of friends I no longer speak to. Some of them we simply grew apart, some of them were toxic to my life, some of them changed so drastically that I could no longer be a part of their life. I do not forget them because the time that we spent together may have had a lot of good in it. I do however now appreciate the sentiment that if you do not add any positivity to my life, then there is no need for you to be in it.

The older you grow the more important that sentiment rings true. Not everybody needs to be your friend. I can still be kind and respectful to a co-worker and rather than call them a friend. I’ll call them an a co-worker.

When I was younger the definition of a friend was basically anybody I knew. If we shared a class that we never spoke in, but I knew your name I’d refer to you as a friend. If we took the train together every morning, I’d probably refer to you as a friend. If I didn’t even like you, but I knew you first and last name I’d probably refer to you as a friend I’m not that fond of.

Then as you get older the definition was changed. A friend is someone I can trust, someone who I can rely on to recharge me when I’m feeling drained, or someone that adds something positive to my life. There are varying levels on the scale as you grow too. Now there’s the distinction of Facebook Friend. Someone I know tidbits about but I seldom speak or see in real life. That’s not REALLY a friend, but Facebook allows you to rekindle certain friendships.

I do still believe that Friendship, when it’s real, is a unique bond that’s necessary for life and for love. I have a few best friends that I can rely on deeply. They are there for me to talk to and help me. I consider my boyfriend to be one of my best friends too because he can literally calm me, center me, and re energize me just with a hug. I think it’s important to have very close friends like that.

I also can’t stress enough how important it is to have people who aren’t best friends in your life. Casual friends, acquaintances, Facebook friends you actually speak to, all play a pivotal role in your life and in your growth. There is a lot to be said by surrounding yourself with people, it keeps you open minded and forces you to hear other perspectives. I have conversations with Toddlers and people up to 103 (so far) and have learned an immense amount about how we are all unique in some aspects and all the same in others.

Last night I work I sat on the patio with three of my residents. I am in my 30s, one was in his 40s, another in her 60s, and the last was in her 80’s. We spoke of life, love, death, the afterlife, cigarettes and so much more. It was such an interesting conversation to see such different backgrounds and ages discussing things on that deep of a level.

I still think the possibility of anyone being your friend should be in effect for your whole life. I don’t care about your age, race, gender, religion or anything else I would gladly talk to you and go from there. I’ve had deep long lasting conversations with people I realized I could never be friends with. Yet, I still kept them around because the conversations were so intense or insightful. Not everybody needs to be a friend, but I think most people deserve the interview for the position. Sometimes a stranger is just a friend you haven’t met.

The human experience is about the bonds we make. The ones we make without choice, and the ones we make with choice. Family, friends, lovers, acquaintances, even one night stands all have the ability to effect who we are on a minor or major level. The more people you allow in your life the more you open yourself up to change. We’ve learned that change isn’t always a bad thing, now is it?

I think, that anybody who can make you feel better or be better is a friend.

I think friends are important to your mental and physical health.

I also think that friends are a perfect way to invite more hugs into your life.

Your Homework from this post: Find an old friend on Facebook that you haven’t spoken to in a few years and just check in and see how they are doing. Maybe it will lead nowhere, or maybe this will start a new chapter in a book that wasn‘t finished yet.

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