No Friendship is an "Accident"
Updated: Jan 19
Friends....the concept is strange when you explain to someone who asks, if an alien landed on Earth, how could we describe this? Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It’s not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything. Muhammad Ali
You find someone and you just be with each other. You have friends in school, at uni, in your 20s, 30s and so on. Some friends you have for years and years and others come and go. What does it take to be a friend and how do we decide who's in our circle of friends.
First things first...
I PICK YOU, YOU PICK ME
We are all installed with a set of values and beliefs you may be conscious of them, you may not, but there are certain traits we as people gravitate to. For instance, my values and beliefs are;
Honestly / Empathy / Understanding / Thoughtfulness/ Energy / Caring / making the effort / always there no matter what / low maintenance / selfless / only wants the other person to be happy / cares how people feel and inclusive.
You know how I came up with that list thinking about my friends, my gems in my life. What qualities I love about them and the reason why they are still my friends even after years or close friends after only a few months.
I want you to think about your friends and what amazes you about them, what things you think of when you remember them. They are your qualities and beliefs. You may not think you have those qualities, e.g confidence but when your with that friend that's confident, how do they make you feel? confident as well?
Same as smiling we copy who we are with, someone smiles we pick up that smile, if we are with a friend who's outgoing and funny, we will get caught equally in their ways as such.
STICK TOGETHER LIKE BIRDS OF A FEATHER
Getting friends and making new ones can be hard and, or as difficult as you make it. But maintaining a friendship that's where the effort comes in. It's similar to a relationship with a love interest. It's a 50/50 partnership. Sometimes relationships are tough. Life, work, family, mental health, house chores, all these things need to be attended to and need focus. it's like having plates spinning. If you have a high pressured job like mine, I have work and home plates spinning and sometimes...don't get me wrong it's like a Greek restaurant with plates crashing everywhere.
If your a stay at home mum or whatever your path is, guaranteed you are having multiple things going on. Having a friend should allow your downtime and less stress. I have one friend I've known for 15 years, we met through an ex and stayed friends ever since, through her having kids, moving further away, through heartache, through me moving further from her. Yet I know if I was in a bind or if I needed someone, I could pick up the phone and talk it through with her, wouldn't matter that I hadn't seen her in months or text or called her for that length of time. I have other friends in the US and Australia if I need to get away from things I could call them up and there would be a home from home there. These are friends you need, low maintenance and understand you. They are diamonds, gems that are rare and worth more than money could ever give. So if your that person who hasn't been in contact with your friend in some time, or maybe you haven't heard from your friend in ages and getting annoyed they are not making the effort. Make the time to text just saying "hey, been rubbish, love you and thank you for being my friend".
BRITNEY SPEARS: "DON'T YOU KNOW THAT YOUR TOXIC"
Oh don't worry, we have all had them those toxic friends, and to be honest you may not even know your friend is toxic. But I'm going to point out some traits and if you tick at least two of them thinking of a particular friend, sorry to say buddy but they are toxic.
Now depending on your relationship with this toxic friend, will define what you do with them, see them once a month or cut them out of your life. But you have to be aware and know how to handle situations with them. The reason why I bought up toxic friends, is because you don't realise how much damage they have on you, creeping in over time, they can steal your energy, your mental health and well-being, sometimes they might affect your family and friends. Possibly even infringe on your love life. I mean who needs that.
But you might put up with it as, "We been friends forever", "They involve me in outings and nights out", "They don't have anyone else". Any excuse you make is just papering over the cracks. No one should ever make you feel less than you should. Ok, they have been your friend what feels like forever, pah! Should mean they are more understanding, thoughtful and know you as a person. I can tell you now I'm friends with people I've known for a year and they get me after that time. So the length of friendship means not much if you're using it as an excuse.
FRIENDS ARE THE FAMILY WE CHOSE FOR OURSELVES
Well the English dictionary states
"a person with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically one exclusive of sexual or family relations"
A bond, a strange way of describing it but not far off the mark.
One of my favourite authors Simon Sinek quotes: The strong bond of friendship is not always a balanced equation; friendship is not always about giving and taking in equal shares. Instead, friendship is grounded in a feeling that you know exactly who will be there for you when you need something, no matter what or when
I love this quote, we mostly see relationships being a two-way street, tit for tat, you help me and I'll help you. Which is fine and dandy, but when your on a ledge, life is bad and I mean really bad, who you gonna call, Ghostbusters, nope that friend that knows you, the real you, warts and all, knows what to say, when to say it and even says the things you don't want to hear but you need to.
Man o man, when I think about my friends I have a handful I know rain or shine, will be there, know what to say to get me off that ledge and even knows me better than I know myself sometimes. Puts up with my pushing them away sometimes to process life things.
I see my friends as my tribe it's definition is of a community that have similar interests and provides support when needed.
FIND YOU TRIBE AND LOVE THEM HARD
You are hard-wired to crave and need connection. It's in your blood and makeup, think about those cavemen, when they were scavenging for food, they moved and hunted in numbers for safety and survival.
In the urban / 21st century jungle, we need our tribe more than anything. When depression and anxiety are at an all-time high, some experts say this is down to our tribes diminishing and us thinking we can do things alone.
When you are leaving for college or Uni, you leave childhood friends, family and siblings who would have been major sources of support and are caring. You could make more friends at these new places or work, but as I said about those plates spinning makes it more difficult as you get older.
Sometimes it might be you have gone in different directions. My example, the majority of my friends, married/partnered up, kids, homes and settled. I'm the last single person in my group. I moved away from my friends and started afresh somewhere new, so if I wanted to grab a drink with someone...I didn't have a local friend. it might be that you've dumped that toxic friend and want to fill your tribe with like-minded new people.
So here are some tips to grow your tribe and have that support...
Know your neighbours - maybe take a bottle around or pop them a note to say stop by for a cuppa/coffee.
Find a group that has a hobby your interested in - Meetup is a great app for this, or join local Facebook groups. Might be dog walking, up-cycling, running or whatever.
Volunteer - you meet people and give back to your community and feel good at the same time. Three for the price of one on achievements. Speak to hospitals or Age Concern (UK) may be older generation are alone and just wanna cuppa and a biscuit with someone. There are groups that you can register with to walk people's dogs that are sick or recovering from surgery, or building houses and soup kitchens. I mean any charity would be grateful for any help.
Take a course - I've done this, and it was great and you learn new skills and it's not that expensive, look on Groupon or other similar sites and you can get some at a bargain, I did day courses on makeup application, cooking and up-cycling. And I met new people.
In summary, friends are good, when they're good and bad when they are bad. Make sure the tribe you surround yourself with is supportive and uplifting.
I was searching quotes to end this post and I found a couple the resonated with me...
Sometimes being a friend means mastering the art of timing. There is a time for silence. A time to let go and allow people to hurl themselves into their own destiny. And a time to prepare to pick up the pieces when it’s all over. Octavia Butler
Love is a friendship that has caught fire. It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses. Ann Landers