While I think people like me reasonably well, I kind of suck at making friends.
I’m rich with acquaintances, with work buddies, and people with whom I trade quips and snarky remarks online.
But I can count on a couple of fingers the people I would consider friends.
An only child, I never developed many close relationships with any of my peers through high school or college. I threw myself into school work, into romantic relationships, and convinced myself that I could get what I needed in life through intelligence, hard work and a little Southern charm.
After a while, that all starts to run a little thin. Making friends requires vulnerability, opening yourself up to someone so they can best understand the real you. For whatever reason, I’ve struggled with this in the past.
I don’t write this post as any knock against the wonderful supporters I have in my life, my wife, my kids and my parents. Sometimes you just need someone outside your family and disconnected from your work that can be there to listen. Unfortunately, if you don’t put in the work (and all relationships take work) to maintain friendships, those people may not be there when you need them.
Workaholic lifestyles propped up by the illusion of relationships in our social media connections make it easy to believe that we have a community around us, a group of people ready to support. When life gets really tough, though, Facebook comments may help but they can’t really comfort, and it’s hard to vent about your work if all your friends work in the same place you do.
I had a couple of really good friends for years. I think I burned one of them out during a really tough time in my life, and he ghosted on me. The other downgraded to solid-friend-you-see-every-few-months after I moved away further away and we went through an awkward period following my divorce. I have one good friend now, but we allow ourselves to get wrapped up in our day-to-day and don’t stay in touch as often as we should.
Brene Brown said, “Social media has given us this idea that we should all have a posse of friends when in reality, if we have one or two really good friends, we are lucky.”
I don’t believe in any magic number of friends we should have, but I know it’s greater than zero.
Who are your people, those individuals who will come over at a moment’s notice when called and don’t need to know the reason? For whom are you willing to do the same? Are the people you call friends really more acquaintances in friend-clothing?
I guess I’m writing this as a reminder to you, and mostly to myself, not to take those friends we have for granted. Put forth the energy and love into the universe to create new friendships where you can, when they make sense for you. Be there when people need you and let them know that you care about them.
Having a good friend means being a good friend first.
Are you ready to do that work?