Monday, September 29, 2014

Best Friends and Other Secret Weapons

My confidence and peace about who I am right now is my superpower, and a great deal of that is due to my friends.  I want to talk about how huge it is to find these magical unicorn friends who lift you up and know your body language from across the room and have your coffee order memorized, but I'm struggling with how to express just how incredible these relationships are.  I finally realized what was holding me back, and I have a confession to make.  I feel really icky about this, but here it is: for a long time, I've been a bad friend.

If I look back over my formative years, I notice patterns in my relationships that I'm not proud of.  I've been friendly with people all my life, but I've retained few true friends, even from high school and college, and I chalk most of that up to selfish behavior.  I was fickle and lazy. I would seek out fun and spend time with friends who were having a good time.  I liked hanging out in large groups. and didn't really get close to anyone.  I've had friends with whom I'd grow super close, then let the entire relationship go without putting up much fight.  I've made the mistake of taking advantage of people who would take care of me.  I've made the mistake of choosing so-so boyfriends over great ladies who loved me.  I've struggled to be there for friends who were having a hard time.  I've flaked out.  A lot.

I doubt I'm the only person who has regrets about the way they've treated people on their way through life, and even though it makes me squeamish to remember some of my misadventures, they're a part of my story and a part of my truth.  I often wonder how exactly to discuss with friends the unspoken reality that I was bad to them and I am sorry.  I don't have that answer yet.  Still, I want to fess up to these less-than-stellar behaviors to remind you that people screw up, and people can change. Right now, I'm becoming a better friend because I have good friends, and I'm unconsciously mirroring their behaviors.  I'm growing because people haven't given up on me.  It's easy to assume that friendships are easy, and think they might be "toxic" if they're not, but I disagree.  Another thing I've learned in the last decade is that nothing worth having is easy.  You have to work for it all.

For the first time in my life, I'm truly appreciating the handful of devoted friends who have stuck by me for the long haul (THANK YOU!), and forming healthy relationships with people I've met in the last few years. There aren't any easy bullet points on how to do this, but I have a few ideas.  I think it has something to do with choosing the right people to spend time with, using your voice for good, being there when a friend needs you, and feeling comfortable enough to ask for help.  There's no secret formula.  

I want to explore these ideas in a series of posts about adult friendships.  I'm not an expert, but I can share my stories, and I'd love to hear yours, too.  Right now, the friendships I have in my life are a huge source of comfort and strength, and I wish the same community for all the ladies who are doing the hard work of unapologetically finding and being themselves.  It helps to have people at your back.  

What are your biggest struggles around making and maintaining great friendships?  Any tips for being a fabulous friend?  Want to brag about your amazing bestie? Please leave a comment or shoot me an e-mail.  Having awesome lady friends (or friends of any gender) can be a secret weapon.  Let's celebrate that together.

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At September 29, 2014 at 11:34 AM , Blogger Unknown said...

A friendship is just like a romantic relationship - friendships need time, attention, care, and lots of love! And sometimes they are even harder than romantic relationship because time together is harder to find if you don't live together, forgiveness is harder to give, and there's no makeup sex!! ;)

But seriously, friendship is hard and I think one of the most important things I've ever learned about friendships is to take the time and care for the people who make you the happiest. And it's easy to tell who those people are! You will WANT to take the time and care for them, because they make you happy, and you want to make them happy as well.

Also, I think you are a fabulous friend :)

At September 30, 2014 at 6:06 AM , Blogger ashlie said...

I totally agree. I also get frustrated because there are so many levels of friendship- long time friends, people you've just met, people you're close with at work but not outside of work...although I guess trying to define things might just further complicate the issue. Just be nice to people, the end. I love the point about naturally wanted to reciprocate for people who are YOUR people.

I'm so glad you've been patient with me for FIFTEEN YEARS AH!

At September 30, 2014 at 11:56 AM , Blogger Unknown said...

Wowza, we've been friends a long time. Half my life!! Cray-cray.

At December 8, 2018 at 11:49 AM , Blogger Richard H. Black said...

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