Today, I was chatting with one of my best friends for nearly 20 years.
P and I go back so far we can’t pinpoint when or how we actually met. We’ve been allies and friends through ups and downs. Which is strange to some people as, on the surface, we could not be more different.
She is elegant, thin, organised, has impeccable taste, looks like Audrey Hepburn and is as discerning with her relationships as I am open and willing to connect with EVERYONE. Yet, evidence clearly states, that we work. We both actively choose to maintain an honest, and significant friendship. She knows my faults and foibles, and I hers, and we can roll our eyes at each others shortcomings. If, however, anyone were to say anything untrue or unkind to me about her, I’d take it like a personal attack and go heartily into battle for her.
So this morning’s topics covered included, but were not limited to:
- Christening my youngest son (her and our friend R’s Godson)
- Birthday plans (belated and future)
- Current state of play for both our careers
- Social calendars
- Equity Theory: we had to cover that in our undergrad comms degree, here is a picture:
- Pathological overachieving
- Emancipation from drama and silly people
- The fact I have FAR too many children (but we Love and like them anyway)
I feel much better, stronger, and more able to deal with my own, and other people’s challenges after this chat. The vast rejuvenation of spirit came about even after just a short opportunity to connect with her over the digital superhighway.
Friendship confounds me. Luckily, it doesn’t elude me. I’m an active (all-be-it only sporadically available) participant in more functioning and healthy relationships than I could ever have imagined.
Strange and wonderful really. Especially when you consider how lonely, broken, bossy, awkward and ostracized I was (or at least felt) when I was little.
So, as is the case with all the things, I want to know MORE! I want to know WHY!
Science concedes that friendship is an absolutely integral part of our lives. We are social creatures, and our alliances get us through the unimaginable things that get thrown at us from time to time. Friendships also offer us context, clarity, and comfort. The people we spend the most time with can shape our opinions, world-views, political, social and even religious ideals, and even our own self image more than any other factors we are exposed to.
An absolute army of academics has dedicated careers to unraveling the phenomenon of friendship.
So, am I able to Dee-ify this vast body of work in a crude but coherent manner for anyone inclined to read this blog?
“Good” people make great friends, and therefore attract healthy relationships that help them, and others, to thrive. Good people are not perfect, and they do not expect you to be perfect. Truly good humans are beautifully broken, resilient, kind, open to change, and actively look for the best in themselves and others. People who choose to Love, respect and forgive themselves make and attract the best relationships. They don’t always have the most friends, sometimes they do, but they get to take part in good, healthy, honest and nurturing experiences with other humans. These people fix themselves first, because that is the first step to a fuller, and more rewarding existence.
*Disclaimer: Even people who have their S*** together fall down and mess up. They still suffer, they still hurt, they still make mistakes, and they still have to make it through very difficult life experiences that are completely out of their control. The difference is, they own their faults and learn from them instead of playing the victim or laying blame.
The kind of friend (and the kind of person) you are will naturally affect the kind of friends you choose and the kind of people who choose you. Givers get, and the way you treat people will directly affect the kind of company you keep.
Sure there’s lots of other factors and influences that dictate who we choose to let into our hearts and homes. But generally, it is as simple as this:
Put out good stuff, and it comes back. Put out crap, you’ll eventually get a smack.
There is an inexhaustible collection of poignant pithy saying to corroborate my considerable claims on cohorts.
I’ve attached a list of really good scientific and psych articles on this subject if anyone wants to go a little further.
So, in conclusion; be the kind of friend you’d like to have. Be okay with walking away from toxic relationships. Fix you first. Love yourself (all of you, even the bad bits) and seek out honest, kind, inspiring people. And for goodness sake, surround yourself with people who make you laugh.
And here is a handful of Sciency articles on Friendship: