Friendship has rarely been easy for me, and to be honest, it’s a sensitive subject to write about. Since I was twelve years old and endured the utter devastation that followed my first friend break-up, I have been somewhat confounded by the way our culture teaches us to socialize and to care for one another. Over the years I’ve lost friends in ways that have shocked me. My best friend in high school seemed to simply vanish from my life overnight. I love and miss her to this day and wonder still at what it was that made her feel the need to push me away. However, it’s experiences like this one that have inspired me to investigate friendship on a deeper level and to look closely at the ways we relate to one another.
Friendship means different things to different people. I am always looking for someone to stare deep into my soul and tell me all the things I cannot or will not see about myself. And to do this with exquisite compassion and discernment, no less. Some people though are just like, tryin’ to grab a beer after work. And that’s okay too. We all have different needs and expectations.
In an age where we can have thousands upon thousands of so-called online “friends” the true definition of friendship has become murky for many. I think that today many people mistake declarations of friendship for the real thing, which is a great tragedy. For we all have an innate desire to belong and to be connected in a meaningful way to those around us.
For many folks our friends are our families, our communities, our life line. In an age where traditional intergenerational family structures and close community are not a part of mosts people’s lives, the significance of our friendships feels greater than ever before.
It can feel scary to need other people, to remain open and trusting in a world that wounds our tender hearts daily with its injustice. But when we make ourselves vulnerable through acknowledging and embracing our interdependence, we give the people in our lives permission to touch the same soft place of human need within themselves. Your desire for connection and for support is a gift you can share with others and which will find its way back to you multiplied.
Our primary relationship is with ourselves. When we can regard ourselves with true kindness and generosity we become our own best friend. This sense of inner warmth is felt by all we come into contact with. The Friendly Reminders which follow may sound really basic, and they are. When life overwhelms, sometimes the basics are the first to go. We could all benefit from revisiting and redefining these ideals throughout our lives.