It’s been almost a year since I was last musing about friendships and how mine are changing. This week I’ve been noticing what I really enjoy in my friendships, and what isn’t so healthy for me. I’ve talked with others who, like me, have challenges with the traditional format of female friendships, so I thought it might help to share these thoughts.
First of all, know that you are perfectly able and deserving of choosing the types of friendships you prefer. Loving yourself means spending time with people who bring you joy. Of course you’ll help each other through challenging times, I don’t mean to imply you won’t. I mean that you will be uplifting one another through the ups and downs of life. Friendship doesn’t need to include snarkiness or head games.
Also, your friendships can take whatever form you mutually agree on. You can see each other as often as works for both of you, no matter what that looks like. Friends shouldn’t demand or expect that you defer to their schedule. It’s about compromise and cooperation.
Cherish your friends. I still really miss my friend Jenn, who passed away back in the fall. I’m glad I cherished each moment we had together, especially during her last couple of years…but I often wish we had more time. Be present with your friends and really open up and enjoy their company. They are blessings.
It is also vital to be your own friend. I love spending time in solitude, and enjoying my own company is a blessing. It makes friendships with others like a delightful bonus, rather than a longed-for necessity.
What else have I discovered? I’ve recently reconnected with two wonderful women friends, who are now also fellow authors. I love to talk about writing and creativity, and share ideas and philosophies! It’s so much fun. With both women, one who I was in circle with several years ago, and one who was a work colleague back in the day, I felt enlivened and inspired after spending time with them. We’re making plans to get together more often, and I look forward to seeing how that unfolds.
I also love creativity and playing games. Another of my friends and I have been collaborating on classes and workshops for the kids in our homeschool community, and sharing crafts and games. She and her kids are coming over tonight for a rousing game of Killer Bunnies, as a matter of fact. I really enjoy interacting through the lens of ideas and playfulness.
I’m also a good listener, and I’m happy to provide a shoulder when a friend needs to chat about challenges or troubles. I fully admit, I’m less likely to open up about my own problems, but I’m learning. That’s an area where I have some growth to do. I’m much more likely to write in my journal than to share my troubles with a friend, and I don’t like talking on the phone. But that’s okay, and my current circle of friends seem to understand.
What are the things I don’t like? I’m sensitive to feeling like an outsider, and that comes from my time as a shy introvert in public school. I don’t like it when I’m with a group of friends and some of them are whispering or trading inside jokes that they don’t offer to share. It feels hurtful, even if they don’t intend it that way. I think it’s rude.
I don’t resonate with gossip about other people. I am open to a friend talking to me about a problem they’re having with someone else, I just don’t like that condescending air that comes with unnecessary gossip. You know, when it feels like someone is taking pleasure from someone else’s misfortune? I don’t like that at all.
I’m very thankful for the women, and men, who are in my life at this time. The two women I’ve reconnected with recently, the wonderful circle of Pagan women at the UU church, my friends from our EarthSchool co-op, a handful of longtime friends who are still in my life, my mom and aunt and daughter and other family members, friends I first met online or at conferences, and others. You know who you are. You are my friends, and I thank you for all the joy you share!