Some people are content to have a few very close friends and they keep their circle small. Not me. I love to meet new people and I make friends easily. I don’t keep them all, but when I do, and it’s precious and fulfilling.
Someone recently observed that maintaining relationships is too much work. As she grows older, she is choosing to cultivate fewer close friendships. She marveled at my ability to do just the opposite, wondering where I find the energy.
The truth is that connections are what give me energy. I surround myself with interesting people who challenge me. Some friends become teachers and, sometimes, teachers become friends. We share so much: our experiences, wisdom, talents, our lives. We give one another whatever we can, take what we need. Our friendships expand and contract as we travel thru life. There’s no expectation except that I’ll always be there when you need me. Or even if you don’t.
But what makes it stick? Why are some people we meet only acquaintances while others become confidants and companions? I can (and do) spend time with some individuals every week, for years – even decades. Yet, they remain peripheral to my life. Then, there are people I’ve known a short time, for a singular purpose, who quickly find a place in my heart and become a fixture in my life.
Friendship is based on truths. At some point, we’ve discovered that we share some common belief that is central to the way we live our lives. I find parts of myself in you. That creates intimacy and trust. We might not speak of it often, but we build on it. It’s what allows me to be comfortable and to feel free around you. And vice versa.
You understand not only who I am, but who I am becoming. You accept me as a work in progress, loving my current attributes but also supporting my growth. You appreciate that I am the result of my previous suffering. You anticipate that my colors are going to change again and are willing to allow it to happen. Perhaps you are even an integral part of my transformation. I give you the same privilege and celebrate with you when it happens, even if it is inconvenient or uncomfortable for me.
You are willing to walk with me thru the fear, the pain and the messy parts of life. And, if you can make me laugh in the midst of it, even better! We plan the good times, when we can share something we both enjoy (even if it’s just each other). But sometimes bad things happen. We are there for those, too. It’s an unwritten rule. Sometimes we sing and dance, other times, we just hold each other.
Writing it down makes it appear to be a pretty big deal. Maybe that’s why some feel it’s too much responsibility. Thankfully, there are those, like me, who believe it’s worth the effort.
I have friends who are twenty years younger than me and friends who are twenty years older. There’s so much to learn – so much perspective to be gained! I have friends who are gay and friends who are trans. I wouldn’t trade them for the world. I have friends who are men. We’re respectful adults and if there’s sexual tension or dubious partners, we talk about it and address it.
People make the world go around – at least they do for my world. I am thriving because of my friendships. They inspire, challenge and amuse me. They teach, support and energize me. Most importantly, they love me and they are willing to be loved by me, in return.