A close friend recently gave me the topic of Friendships and how they evolve to post about….I admit that the idea of this kind of post seems overwhelming to me. How do I summarize friendships? Each person tends to have a different idea of what it truly means and each friendship is unique in its own way. Some come about quickly and effortlessly, some slow and through struggles, but all TRUE friendships are precious.
As a child, a friendship can be more materialistic. When another little girl shared her toy with you, it was a sign that you were going to be friends. You would push each other on the swing set, take turns at who would get to play with the “best” Barbie doll, and have little sleep overs where you would talk about the other kids who didn’t share with you and you wished they did. The kid with the coolest toys ended up as the popular ones and if you were lucky enough to be their friend, you felt excited at the prospect of getting to share these toys.
Then you entered middle school and a lot of the friends you thought were special to you started to find new friends and ignore you. You started going through changes, both emotionally and physically, and friendship was a thing that tended to come and go with the seasons. It wasn’t unusual for a friend of today to be the enemy of tomorrow, than in turn, become a best friend the next week. It was a time of up and down roller coaster rides full of drama the likes of which your mother watched on daytime soaps.
High school….Different for each person depending on which clique you were in. For me, I was an outsider, not by choice, but by the fact that the title was thrust upon me. Friends I knew from Middle School went on to become popular and avoid me and I was left lonely searching for a friend in an unfriendly environment. The writer of “Mean Girls” wasn’t lying when she pictured a high school environment as a jungle. It can truly feel that way….a “Survival of the Fittest” involving cliques and trying to rise to the top seemed like an impossible climb. I made 2 friends in high school, one through church. She was younger than me by about a year so we weren’t at the same school but we were still childlike minded. We would have sleep overs and still play with barbie dolls…..I was 13 going on 14 my first year of high school…..stuck with tons of kids older, but not necessarily wiser. I met my other friend in a class when we were stuck together for an assignment. She was a few months older than me and my only friend at the high school. My two friendships were both unique, we both shared different interests, but we all came together out of a necessity for friendship and the commonality we shared.
As the high school years went on, we managed to keep the friendships together but when I left the high school for homeschool and then a separate school to finish early, our friendships split apart for a bit. My 2 friends had become friends and they were in a world separate from my world. They were still dealing with high school drama, starting to become more interested in boys and their time was less to share with me than before. Then when my younger friend became pregnant her senior year and I found out from her later than the others, we started to come back together as good friends…All 3 of us. We talked more than before and the friendship shifted. My friend that played barbie dolls with me was having a baby and would have to grow up quickly. My other friend was “in love” with a boy at the time and I was the one whose only relationship was a long distance one at the time with no plans to engage in the makings of a baby anytime soon, so it was different. I had 2 friends that were more experienced than me, they seemed to be more mature even though one was younger. They had seen more than me and I was excited at the idea of my friends being able to maybe teach me things that I didn’t know. I was still young and naive…and the friendships, although not materialistic, were not as deeply tethered as friends should be yet.
Of course, I had a best friend from a young age that was also my niece, although I didn’t publicly call her that until I was probably 10 or 11, I would say. My friendship bond with her was based on a family bond, a nurturing bond in which I wanted to protect her as my niece, a common interest bond and a general care and love for her future.
Then college started the friendships that are better known as acquaintances. I went through a lot of “friends” that shared classes with me, did plays with me and were in my singing/dancing group with me. Since we shared so much time together, we all talked a lot and I came to consider a vast majority of these acquaintances as my friends. I friended them on MySpace and referred them to everyone I knew as my “friends”……I started to feel like I was sort of popular. I had so many “friends” but it took me to the point of almost graduating college before I realized that pretty much none of them were my actual TRUE “friends”. They were acquaintances, just like my future co workers in jobs that I would have. They were people I saw all the time so that I was forced to have a working relationship where we got along because we were stuck together so much, but when the jobs ended, the plays ended, my group was done…..very few of them stuck around. Sure some of them ended up becoming friends on Facebook and an occasional “Hi, How are you?” would be exchanged but for the most part…..they were more acquaintances. Friends are people that when work and play is over, you still talk to them about their lives. You still think of them and wonder how they are doing with a genuine desire to know….not just a curiosity like when you show up at a high school reunion. Growing up, I started to learn that the “friends” on Myspace and Facebook are not necessarily your “friends” but people you have come across in your life that you talk to every once in awhile. Acquaintances.
Now as an adult, I’m seeing that a lot of my friends from childhood have disappeared in the wind. Some due to moving away, some due to them growing up and moving on with their lives and just deciding I was no longer of importance enough to keep up with like I was before. And I am at peace with that. I have lots of “friends” that will wish me Happy Birthday on that day, they will wave and say Hi to me at the store and maybe talk for a couple minutes. Then I have a few friends where not speaking to them after a long period of time makes me feel weak, like I have gone without water. Those are the friends that have stuck by me through the hard times and have accepted me for who I am….and all my changes through the years. They are the ones who know the ME that I can’t even see in me and truly want the best for me. They’re the TRUE friends and the ones I hope will be there until the day I die or the day they, God forbid, do so.
Some of my closest friends from the past have slowly drifted apart from me and some I grieve for, while others I do not. The ones I grieve for are the ones that I felt would always be there and I am at a loss as to what happened to make them leave. Then there are the ones that have failed to mature while I DID and so I have basically outgrown them, like a child outgrows a toy.
Then there’s the unexpected friendships since I have become an adult. The ones you meet in the strangest places and normally would never have become friends but you are put together and it somehow works. That’s the type of friend that told me to do THIS post. An older friend who I would have never thought I would be friends with in the past and now is someone I couldn’t picture my life without.
I have also discovered that when you make “true” friends in life, you can make it through the times when they’re busy with work and parenting while you have no kids. I used to think when a friend became a parent and you were NOT one, that the friendship would die away. Now I know that’s not always so. If you’re “true” friends, it doesn’t matter. The time can pass in between seeing each other and it still feels the same when you see each other again…just like no time has passed at all. Hearing from them on the computer or phone every once in awhile can be enough to last until I get the chance to see them in person again. It’s great to know that’s possible.
If I leave this world with just the “True” friends I have at this moment, I will be happy to know that I had the blessing of having such great ones.