I have been pondering friendship a lot lately, as I have some friends who are living through very challenging situations right now, and I find myself both wanting to help them in whatever way I can and not knowing quite what I can do to make things better, other than stalking them via text message to tell them over and over again that I am thinking of them and here for them and will do anything to help them. I know that when I am in a challenging situation, I appreciate frequent reassurances that someone is thinking of me and willing to help me out. However, when I am on the other side of the coin, I worry that I might be annoying or overbearing, and although I send the frequent texts and make the occasional phone calls, I do wonder if the person on the other end might be thinking, “Okay, enough already!”
As you head further and further into adulthood (and as we go further and further into this information age), friendship really changes quite a bit. In high school, I had some great friends that I thought I would remain friends with forever. And while I do still count two of my high school friends among my closest confidantes, most of those great friends are now of the Facebook variety. When you are going to college, you hear that the friends you make in college will be the ones you have all your life. However, I went to college about five hours away from home, so the friends I made in college do not live close by. Therefore, while I do still keep in touch with them, I am not in constant contact with them. They are also mostly of the Facebook variety now.
Each time I got a new job, I made new friends. However, many of these people are people I have mostly lost contact with as our lives and careers changed. I do have my Girl Scout camp friends, who I don’t see all that often but who are the kind of friends I can pick back up with as if not one moment has passed since our last meeting. I also have friends that I first made through the retail job that I have worked, very part-time, for the past nine years. I also have many, many friends that I met courtesy of the internet. The first group is a group of girls with whom I used to belong to eDiets. Once we moved on from eDiets, we took steps to continue to stay in touch, and we “talk” online on an almost daily basis. These girls know more about me than almost anyone, and I would be lost without them. The second group is from an online book club that I belong to, and although we have not been talking as long as my eDiets crew, I find them filling a very important role in my life, as I know that I can say ANYTHING to them without fear of judgment, and if I need someone, they are just an email away.
In my career, I spend my work days in what can be a high-stress, high-emotion environment. I have found that, when you work in such a situation, you really come to rely on your coworkers, and you develop a relationship that is not the norm in a lower pressure work environment. I am so fortunate to have these women, as they have become among the best friends I can imagine having in my day-to-day life. Over the last several years, our friendship has progressed from a hey-I-am-glad-to-be-working-with-you-today kind of relationship to a wow-today-was-bad-and-I-need-to-talk-about-it one, and even on a bad day, knowing that they are in my corner can really help me continue to put one foot in front of the other.
I also have a couple of long-time friends that do not fit into these categories. The first is someone I have known for over thirty years, who I met when our moms were in a baby-sitting co-op together. Her family became best friends with my family, and we have remained close through over thirty years, five states, two weddings, and two pregnancies (hers, obviously). Although we see each other VERY infrequently and don’t talk as often as I would like to, I love having in my life someone who has known me since I was just a little girl and who remembers all those years of friendship. The other is someone I first met through work when I was right out of college, who eventually drifted out of my life due to our changing circumstances but then not that long ago came back into it. She has known me since I was a new college graduate, just getting my feet wet in the adult world, and she is also someone who I can pick up with just where we left off, no matter what has happened in the meantime. She is a treasure to me, and I hope she knows it.
It’s so interesting to me to break things down this way because it’s easy to forget how fortunate you are in your friendships if you really don’t sit down and count the blessings that are your friends. Although I don’t see most of these people all that often (other than my friends from work, who I spend a lot of wonderful time with), looking at the support systems I have out there makes me realize that I am very, very lucky in this area of my life. And an additional New Year’s Resolution seems to be called for here. This year will be the year that I show my friends what they mean to me, both through words and actions. After all, they do so much for me…I would like to return that ten-fold.