On Friendship

When I was growing up, and even not so very long ago, friendships were a complicated thing for me – always mired in the deep-seated belief that nobody really wanted to hear from me, that I was probably last in line of others’ series of really good friends, and therefore didn’t really need to put in a lot of effort in regards to communication or special events. Then, when I missed out on something, it was easy to say, “See? They didn’t really need me around anyway. I just wasn’t cut out to have a lot of friends. I’m too (busy, independent, awkward, quirky) to hang out, anyway.”

But lately, I’d say over the last few years, I’ve come to realize just how lucky I am to have a handful of really GOOD friends whom I treasure. If we don’t talk in more than a week I miss them – and I call them to let them know! I keep up to date on their lives and am genuinely interested/concerned in the latest developments. I have standing weekly Friday-night cocktail hour and daily Instant Messenger chats. Traveling across the country last year for the debut of my friend’s first written play never required a second guess. I have a key to my girlfriend’s house so I can check in on their dog when they leave for the weekends. On rainy Sundays I take coffee and pastry to her house to visit so she doesn’t have to bundle up her new baby (to whom I’m “auntie,” which is just the most heartwarming title in the world). And just the other day, my hairdresser invited me to a girls-only monthly wine tasting get-together.

For some women, this would fall under the category of No Big Whoop. Some women are social animals. Me, well…I thought I wasn’t, but maybe I just needed a little more confidence. And, to be honest, I needed a little less self-absorption. Now, it’s less about trying to be my awesomest and hoping people like me. Truly, the more I care for these amazing people and genuinely need to know about their lives, the less I care about whether they really want to hear from me. Now I just know that they do. And if they’re too busy, it’s nothing personal; it’s life.

I don’t know a whole lot about what caused this shift in my view of myself and my friends, but I’m certain it has a lot to do with my roommate mother-in-law. I’ve experienced first-hand her genuine character, her caring for long-term friends, the mirth with which she tells stories of my husband and his brother growing up on their cul-de-sac with the family-like neighbors with whom she still keeps in contact.

I have transitioned out of the superficial friendship, where small talk (and, subsequently judgment, both of myself and the friend) is required at every encounter. It’s a version of friendship I’d never witnessed before but that I now see myself cultivating among my dearest comrades (a lot of this blog I fear is going to be about examining the not-too-endearing qualities I gleaned from my own mother, from whom I’ve been estranged for a little over two years).

At any rate, I am so very thankful for the dear friendships I have and am apparently still finding. This very grownup feeling of getting more joy out of what I put in than what I take out ain’t so bad, either.

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