This month on the Here Year has focused on friendship. My friends and those I love the most have been firmly on my mind all month. The thing is I’ve struggled with what to say that is new, to be honest. I believe that true, honest, deep friendship is one of the most essential parts of a full and contented life. I believe that certain fertile moments in our lives lend themselves particularly to making friends. I believe that a person’s closest friends can tell you an awful lot about them and that who we truly love shows us a lot about who we are.
I have always loved my friends, and am truly blessed with wonderful people who are close to me. Sometimes I hear from readers, though, that it all seems easy and smooth. That’s far from the truth. I’m not always a picnic to be close to, that I know. I’m over-sensitive and take things personally, I react quickly and sometimes strongly, and generally I’m a pain in the ass. I assure you: nothing in this life of mine is always easy or perennially smooth. Please know that. Part of why I feel so strongly about friendship is that I’ve learned, often through heartache, to value and defend those relationships that matter the most to me.
Aidan has often blogged on the Here Year themes with lists, which are a mix of reflection and action suggestion. I love this format.
So, a few thoughts on ways to be, and have, a friend:
1. Remain Open. I think the key to those particularly fecund friendship-making periods in our lives is that they are moments of real vulnerability. When we let down our guard and reveal who we really are, that invites others in.
2. Be Loyal. Remember the other person’s feelings. Include them. Consider how they will feel about something.
3. Be Trustworthy. More than once people have been shocked to hear that I knew something about someone else and never said anything. I’m always surprised by this shock. To me, “don’t tell anyone” means don’t tell anyone. Period.
4. Keep in Touch. It’s simple and doesn’t take very much time at all. Just a quick “I’m thinking about you” means the world. Email and text have made this so much easier. Remember and mark birthdays (paper card is ideal, or an email or text, or, if it comes to that, a FB message) but the random “you’re on my mind” message or “I saw this and it made me think of you” can mean even more, in my opinion.
5. Say How You Feel. I don’t think we tell the people we really love and value that enough. Just say it. To be maudlin, we never know when we’ll get the chance again. Text it if you don’t want to say it out loud. I can’t tell you how much I cherish the expressions of warmth, gratitude, and appreciation I’ve received from others.
6. Defend Each Other. That quote about what the silence of our friends hurting more than the words of our enemies comes to mind. Oh, yes. I’m watching this now with Grace, in 6th grade. Sometimes we have to stick up for those we love, even if it means going against the easy current. Do it.
7. Listen. Friendship is made of attention. I believe this entirely. I am still learning to listen without jumping in with suggestions, observations, reactions. Just listen. Pay attention. Don’t be distracted.
8. Show Up. There are certain things you just show up for: weddings, funerals, christenings, big birthdays. I regret missing some of these in the lives of some of those I love most, though I can honestly say the decision has never been a casual one. Still. Show up if you at all can. It always means so incredibly much to me when others make the effort.
What are your thoughts on the most important things to remember about friendship?