I wanted to write a bit about friendship.
This is a bit of a vulnerable post for me, but I thought I’d share in case anyone can relate, or gather something from this.
I used to think friendship was a game that I didn’t know the rules to. I did make friends growing up, but I remember always looking to my older sister (hi if you’re reading :-)) and thinking, how is it that she is able to make friends so much more easily than me? My sister was a social butterfly and always seemed to be the life of the party. I remember one night when I was maybe eight years old, asking my sister what the secret to making friends was. She wouldn’t tell me. She ended up going off to summer camp that summer and having a blast, while I declined the opportunity to go because I was afraid of being alone away from home, and afraid of a new environment where I potentially wouldn’t be able to make any friends.
It’s only as I’ve grown older – actually it’s perhaps only been in the past few years – that I’ve understood the true meaning of friendship. When I was little, friends meant playmates. In middle and high school, friends meant peers you could weather those tumultuous, often awkward years with. In college, to be honest, I struggled to make true, deep, long-lasting friendships. I was only able to make a handful of real ones, which thankfully have endured to present day.
I finally understand what friendship is. Because of certain events from my past, I closed myself off as a teen and put walls up when interacting with others, even with my so-called closest friends. I never really let anyone in. Not truly. But that’s what real friendship is. Real friendship means you can be open and vulnerable with each other; it means you feel safe to let the other person in to breathe life into your deepest, darkest corners; it means you are there when they are down to help them up, and vice versa.
It’s astonishing that this isn’t taught in schools. Maybe it’s a life lesson that needs to be learned through experience. Some people sure seem to have a natural knack for it. Yet still, the ability to be a social butterfly and command attention doesn’t necessarily mean you also have the ability to nurture authentic connections with others.
The ability to be vulnerable. The willingness to risk being vulnerable and trusting that the other person won’t ridicule you or leave. That they’ll stay, listen, hold space, love you anyway. Perhaps love you even more for giving them the honor and letting them in so intimately. This is the crux of true friendship. I learned that these past few months in graduate school, during group therapy. Shoutout to my *~cycle breakers~*.
I know eight-year-old me would have been blown away by this information. Perhaps she wouldn’t even have been able to understand it anyway. Perhaps to an eight year old, making friends simply means finding people who share some of your interests and whom you can have fun with. But as an adult (and even as a young adult), friendships mean dear ones you can navigate the ups and downs of life with. Soul connections who just get you. Who know and accept all sides of you – the beautiful and ugly. Who see you for who you are and honor all of it, because they know the value of being on the receiving end of that acceptance. And they know you would reciprocate in a heartbeat.
Anyway, those are just some of my thoughts this Friday evening. To whoever is reading this, I hope that with all the current crazy happenings in the world, you have a friend you can turn to. If you don’t, maybe just think of one person you know and trust, and pluck up the courage to share something with them you haven’t shared before. You might be surprised by how positively they react, or soon see that – unwittingly, and naturally, you have made yourself a new friend.
In the spirit of encouraging reflection and discussion, feel free to leave a comment: What do you think? Do you have any secrets for building and maintaining friendships? What does true friendship mean to you? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
One thought on “On Friendship”
There is nothing you can do for God to love you more. There is nothing you can do for God to love you less. It’s the same with friends. True friends.