I’ve been thinking a lot about friendships lately. Largely because I’ve been going through some things where I’ve needed my friends, but also because of some thought-provoking conversations I’ve been having with some important people in my life of late.
Recently my time spent with friends and acquaintances has been full of refreshingly real conversations. This is not to say I haven’t had great and meaningful conversations with friends in the past – I have. But in 2019 something seems different. Maybe it comes with age or maybe it comes with my being more vulnerable of late (and more open and accepting of obstacles) but recently my time spent with friends has been really moving.
As things have been hard this year (and because several people have inquired…I won’t be elaborating on what’s been going on. I always share as much as I feel compelled to with you guys but some things are not entirely my own to share and the things happening this year will not be shared publicly on wit & whimsy) what I’ve been realizing is that I need to be focusing on the friends who meet me halfway. Not the “friends” that constantly take. Or the friends that feel like every time you meet up you’re a therapist giving 90 minutes of free therapy.
I long ago rid myself of toxic friendships (you know the ones. The ones where the people didn’t make you feel good about yourself or didn’t have shared values. The ones who cut you down or always gossiped. I no longer spend time with people like this. It was a wonderful thing to leave in my past as I grew and became more reflective on my needs in my 30s.) But lately I’ve also been making less time for the friendships in my life that seem one sided. The friends that don’t check in. The ones that don’t feel mutually beneficial.
When we’re going through $h!t, we need friends that really let us speak.
That listen but also hear us. Recently I was at a dinner with two former colleagues turned friends and as I sat crying sharing some of what 2019 has served me in the form of cold, hard truths, I stopped to realize the way I was being heard. Despite them having their own things going on and their triumphs to also be celebrated at the dinner table, I saw their looks of genuine concern and genuine support and my heart felt more full in that moment. We covered a lot of topics over the course of our three hour dinner but in that moment, as tears streamed down my face, I was supremely grateful for these two friendships – from friends I see only four or so times a year – and remembered that these are friends that I could also call on more often.
I’ve been reflecting lately that…
…Some friends you can go months or years not seeing but you pick right back up or they know you so well that upon sight they know you’ve been through or are going through something that’s moved you or changed you or hurt you.
…Some friends are the ones who show up when you don’t expect they will.
…Sometimes the friends we think of first in times of tragedy or despair aren’t the ones that we’ll reap benefit from.
…Sometimes our closest friends live far away and support can only be virtual. This is a really tough one for me. (My very best friends all live 3,000 miles away.)
…Sometimes we have friends that are great friends but can’t read minds. We have to ask for help. We have to reach out.
…Sometimes friends you thought of on one level are the ones that really show up. It allows your friendship to deepen.
…Sometimes you have to recognize and release the friendships that bring energy that is affecting you in a way that’s counter productive.
A lot of things we typically reach out to friends with is good news, right? New jobs, moves, new boyfriends, engagements, new homes, pregnancies…it is news you want to shout from the rooftops. But a lot of life is also un-welcomed news and it can be hard to share it. Typing it or saying it aloud makes it more real. But earlier this year I learned the value of saying what my current reality was and being heard by the people that really wanted to be there for me. And it is the friends that reach out consistently and really show they care and truly hear you…these friends are rare gems in my opinion.
By nature I am a very positive, do-it-all, be a good listener kind of person.
I listen so well and ask so many follow up questions, that what’s going on with me can easily not be discussed. (I’m also the type of friend who gets value out of being the helper in a relationship – it provides me self worth but it can also be an achilles heel.) And, in addition to this, it can be hard for me to share what’s going on when it is hard. It is particularly difficult for me, when the going gets tough, to reboot. To move forward and to give over to God. (I’m really working on it, though).
What this post is really about is to say that we all have friends that fit different needs.
And as we all get older and grow, it is only natural for our friendships to evolve. (As an aside: adult friendships is one of the topics I am most asked about by you guys via Instagram and email. I always say that you should measure and take stock in how you feel when you walk away from people. The ones that leave you feel uplifted – put effort into those friendships. The ones where you leave feeling anxious or stressed – work to limit or eliminate those.)
Right now I’m personally prioritizing the friends that make me feel heard and whose friendship feels like the road goes both ways – we’re equals in our friendship and in our support system. As I’ve worked to do this this year, it’s been really wonderful to have those honest, transparent, real conversations I mentioned earlier. They’ve fed my soul and made me feel like the time was so well spent. This is how I want to continue to feel in my relationships this year and I’m hopeful that as I continue to protect and prioritize my time and my needs in my current state – that these feelings of fulfillment will continue.
Briony and I had been “internet friends” for many years and shared many mutual friends through the world of blogging. We only met in person in May 2018 in London but became fast friends. An afternoon tea turned into a five hour hang out session which turned into meeting for dinner in Lisbon in June which turned into Paris trip planning for October which turned into rendez-vous-ing in London this past February. It was like we were long lost friends that had finally found one another and I believe we were brought into each other’s lives for a reason.
She’s the ultra-caring type of friend I deeply appreciate and we treat our friendships very similarly. In the short time we’ve known each other, we’ve grown close and talked deeply about life’s most importance topics. She’s the type of friend that makes you want to be a better person and who, when you spend time with her, uplifts you instantly. Our mutual love of Paris is just one thing we have in common and our friendship is a constant reminder that people come into our lives are not by coincidence.