Tuesday, June 19, 2012

You've got a friend

"I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and new."
--Ralph Waldo Emerson

Lately I've been thinking about the friendships I enjoy.  I'm not only talking about the ones with the people who go to the same parties as me or people who "like" my Facebook statuses.  No, I want to discuss the true, deep-down friends who really know how to prod you on to be a better person or who support you in your falls from grace.  The ones who talk you off the road to Crazytown (population: me) and are genuinely interested in your success.

I have MANY of these friends.

You know the ones.  Friends I can text about whatever current drama I'm blowing out of proportion and who will text me right back and ask if I'm ok and what they can do to help.  People who go see ridiculously cheesy Zac Efron movies to lift my spirits and satisfy my sweet tooth for eye candy.  The ones who listen to you complain the joys of selling a condo or the stupidity of study coordinators at work.  The friends I don't have to pose for, don't have to get dressed up for, don't have to spend money to impress, and don't have to worry that they are judging me (or if they are, that they'll tell me straight to my face).  Buddies to go on road trips with or to talk until 2:00 in the morning.  Friends who tell you things that might be painful to hear, but they swallow their fear and do so anyway because they love you and want you to be the best you possible.

And all of this has gotten me pondering...I hope I give as much as I get.  When a friend needs a metaphorical shoulder to cry on (or an actual shoulder...), I want to be there, cheering them up or just lending a listening ear.  If one of my good friends has exciting news, I want to be the first to send them texts with a million exclamation points or take them out for celebrations galore.  So often we look at what we can GET instead of what we can GIVE, and as cliche as it sounds, you really do reap what you sow.  So, I'm on a mission to be that friend.

But there are some things you should know:

I struggle with small bouts of anxiety in my life, so making friends hasn't always been my strong suit.  I would tell myself that it's better to have a few really good friends than lots of acquaintances.  I still think there's something to that, but it doesn't mean I should shut myself off to new friendship experiences.  Believe it or not, I've come a long way in mellowing and deepening and becoming comfortable with myself and my relationships with others.  I have found that if I stick to my true, genuine self, the friendships I make are golden.  No posturing...full acceptance of an imperfect package.  Let's face it...that's what we all are.  And if I can help shoulder the burden on your back, and you do the same for me, we're both better for it.

For a long time, I thought if I wasn't the person filling the gaps, that I was the cause of an inadequate friendship.  I would give and give and give until it hurt, and then feel empty because my generosity wasn't being reciprocated.  Have you ever felt like that?  Like you're trying so desperately to get someone to appreciate you that you step outside of who you really are and go way above and beyond...only to fall flat on your face?  I'm not talking about a romantic relationship here.  What I mean is giving up who you are to impress someone--anyone--who isn't willing to meet you halfway.  No one needs the wear and tear of the friend who drains...and we've all had them.  Each should feel like friend time leaves their "bucket" feeling refreshed, or at the very least, not bone dry.  Sometimes there can be a painful parting of ways, but standing up for yourself is a great policy in my book. Don't let someone take advantage of you, hoping one day they will return the favor. Get out of an unbalanced friendship if it's making you more stressed than it's worth over the long-run.

Here's one thing I've figured out in life: it is so much less exhausting and heart-wrenching to just be you and accept what and who comes your way organically than to fight and try to swim upstream against nature.  And I'm sure I'll keep re-learning that lesson as life goes on.  True friends will be symbiotic, giving and taking at an equitable rate, and the rest will fall by the wayside in the natural course of things.  I guess I feel like I'm old enough now that I'm mostly comfortable with the Annie I've become, and if someone doesn't like that or appreciate me, why would I waste my time trying to convince them otherwise?  It's not like they have a job opening for friends and I've filled out the application and turned in the resume and they're turning me down.  I don't have to like everyone and everyone doesn't have to like me.  And hey, that's ok!

So here's to my friends who like me for my quirks--or in spite of them.  To the ones who will defend me in my madness and soothe me in my sadness.  For the people I've been friends with for twenty years or those I've only known a month, young or old, you are building blocks in my life.  I don't think I can fully express how grateful I am for friends who are usually in the right places for me at the times when I need them most.


Blogger heidikins said...

Yes. This.



June 20, 2012 at 11:25 AM


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