I have a wonderful sister and we have been friends for the last 20-25 years. In the first years of my life we weren’t really close. I was the oldest and almost 7 years older. I guess we were just in different stages – I was in high school when she was still in grade school. Then I left home after high school and pursued my own life. I got married, had a family and was BUSY !!!!! Of course we got together for holidays but we didn’t really click. That changed when I went through a dark place in my life and she was right there. We have been really close since then and I’m so happy we finally connected.
Adult children can become friends also. I remember the day when my daughter sat me down and said, “Mom I need you to be less a mother now and more a friend.” Did it happen overnight – oh no, not even close. But it did happen. And she overlooks, for the most part, the times I slip back into my mommy mode.
There are also several people who I would call BFF’s. The kind of friend that I can call in the middle of the night and say I can’t sleep or I just had a crazy thought. Who have been there in the good, bad and ugly parts of my life and still love me. They know my secrets and I feel that they are safe with them. They are the kind of friends that you can ask, “How does this look on me?” and expect an honest answer and not just something to fluff you up. Even if I don’t talk to these friends every day, when we do talk, we pick up right where we left off.
I’ve found that my friendships have changed since I’ve gotten older. Those early parents of my child’s playmates and school friends haven’t endured. As I’ve grown up, I realized it is less important to have lots of friends, and more important to have real ones !!!!
I’ve also noticed that social media has changed the face of friendship but really not much. In a 2011 American Psychological Association interview, Sherry Turkle, author of “Alone Together,” notes that social networking and texting can be valuable tools to stay connected with people you are already friends with. However, they can also provide an illusion of companionship without intimacy or true friendship. So having 2,000 friends on Face Book doesn’t count. How many of these people do you have a one-on-one, honest and deep friendship built up with them?
Many adults find it hard to develop new friendships or keep up existing friendships. Friendships when you were younger may have hinged on children or coworkers. Your friends from school may be lost in the fact that we are a mobile society and many people don’t live close to their home towns. As we get older and retire our coworkers and friends from our children’s school may fade away but there are many new opportunities to meet new friends. These can work if we are older (like me) or still raising children. Attend community events – help at the polls during an election, join a garden group and help clean up the community garden plot, search out a seniors center and go on trips. Volunteer – Offer your time or talents at a hospital, place of worship, museum, community center, charitable group or organizations. Develop new interests – Take a college or community education course to meet people who have similar interests. Join a class at a local gym, senior or community fitness facility. Join a faith community – get to know people there and take part in activities.
Above all, stay positive. You may not become friends with everyone you meet, but maintaining a friendly attitude and demeanor can help you improve the relationships in your life and sow the seeds of friendship with new acquaintances
Let me list some benefits of this kind of relationship.
- “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work; if one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up. ” Ecclesiastes 4:9
A friend can be your best cheerleader. Friends can help celebrate the good times and cry with you when the bad times come. Friends are there in time of turmoil and trauma-running errands, bringing meals, and just taking up the slack without the need of directions.
- Friends can have a major impact on your health and well-being. They can encourage you in a healthy lifestyle. A great walking partner comes to mind. Having friends can reduce stress and depression while giving you a reason to love and laugh. Friendship is a great way to speed recovery and slow aging. Now I’m all for that !!!!
- You can share your deepest fears and dreams with your friends and not feel censure or judgement. They love you as you are – quirks and all. You can trust that these dreams and fears are safe with them and won’t be tomorrow’s gossip. Being loyal is a wonderful trait in a true friend !!!!
- Friends can offer you a fresh, honest perspective. Painting your living room black with orange stripes and green stars should, maybe, be run through your friend first before you rush out and buy the paint. I’ve had friends tell me I’m wrong about something and been able to say the same to them without hurt feelings. You know your friend – she has your back !!!
My life has been richer because of my friends. And in the words of Charles R. Swindoll – “I cannot even imagine where I would be today if not for that handful of friends who have given me a heart full of joy. Lets face it, friends make life a lot more fun.”
Take time today to connect with an old friend, and touch that new friend. Friendship grows with nurturing from both sides. You need friends and they need you. It doesn’t take much skill to cultivate this close and fascinating human bond – but it does take effort and time. But that effort will pay profound dividends in your life.
How has friendship impacted you life? Share a story about your friendships with those special people in your life.