When we are young, first forming friendships, we tend to ‘end up‘ with people who are the closest in proximity to us. Though not necessarily likeminded. Or even likeable. Neighbor kids. Classmates. Teammates. Even family members. That’s who we spend our time with. Like an unwritten rule. Geography defines it. That is your friend now. Looking back…how often was it that those were people who were good for you? How often were they people that were good to you?
My father, in all his capacity as an understanding male role model, would tell me, “you don’t need to cry about everything”. And the still much loved, “you’re too sensitive.” And I remember the very first time he said both to me. When I was ten, I went to my first birthday party overnight. The four other boys decided together to lock me out of the basement room where we were supposed to sleep. After an hour of silently waiting on the stairs for a change of heart that would not come, I had to go upstairs into a home I did not know and ask the mother if she would call my dad to pick me up. I asked her what did she think he would say. She didn’t know my dad, and whatever her answer it would only be speculation. But I remember hoping this stranger would offer some sort of comfort. Anything. She told me, “he’s probably going to wonder why he has to come get you at 11 o’clock at night because you couldn’t handle it.” Though very close to home, the memory is that I was miles away.
But these are your friends…
As we grow older, friendships are less able to be outlined on a neighborhood map. All hail the driver’s license. And we make different choices if all goes as planned. We have choices. We don’t need anyone to call dad anymore. We make friends at work and school. We actively seek the likeminded. And those with similar interests. Which brings about a whole new set of issues. And realizing how few people truly match that criteria as our standards change.
I am an extreme introvert. I have never been much for ‘sportsball’. And swimming, tennis and golf don’t provide much of a male camaraderie. I rarely dated before I was married and I didn’t drink until well into my 30’s. This cut out a huge chunk of being exposed to other groups, new people, places or the snowball’s chance in hell of ever finding anyone I had things in common with, let alone got along with. Even less of a chance, someone I respected as a human.
Older still…we become even more mired in the day to day. The responsibilities of a household. A family. Work. Time is so precious. And so very limited. Where did the years go? And what sorcery is this that friends still don’t simply fall into your lap?! Life has changed, but the A-Ha moment of realizing you have to actually work for a real friendship has remained a constant. I suppose we merely stop being in denial of this as we age. It has always been true.
I do not subscribe to the toxic modality of bonding over similar hatreds, or negativities. It isn’t real. It doesn’t last. And you will become one of those hatreds or negativities. The scary and very exhausting truth is that meaningful friendships require an unnerving degree of intimacy. If you accept it. The sharing of both joys and failures. The openness of fears and hopes. The vulnerability of faults and shortcomings. The whisperings of secrets and needs. The giving up of pasts as well as present. And mutual acceptance of all of it. Indeed, it sounds terrifying. But superficiality has never intrigued me quite so much as someone who bares their heart to me. Who wants and allows me to see it and embrace it. Even on it’s ugliest of days. Of which I have many myself.
In these years of upholding the heaviest day-to-days, wearing our lifetime of battle wounds and struggle for only the chosen to see, friendship now importantly becomes about one thing. Time. The most scarce of commodities. Years on, now, from first being cruelly locked out, I have learned about investment. I have learned just how meaningful that time is. I have learned to see my investments through. Because they matter. Because hearts are precious. And they do exist. These are the things that will forever mean everything to me. And absolutely make all the difference. I won’t let anyone tell me It Doesn’t Matter…I would refuse to believe it.