Friends. It’s a simple enough word. Merriam Webster defines it as, “…a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations.” There’s nothing in that definition that describes the KINDS of friends we can be, or need, or have; or even how long one is supposed to be friends.
I’ve been friends with a great many people in my life. Some are still around in spite of or because of who I am. Some are not around anymore for whatever reason. Not all friends, “un”-friend you and tell you why.
Now when we start adding qualifiers like “best”, “oldest”, “good”, etc.; then being one’s friend gets a bit trickier. Do we befriend people who are like us? Sure, we do. Birds of a feather and all that. Should we befriend people who aren’t like us? Also, sure. How can anyone grow as a person when they’re consistently surrounded by the same kinds of people?
What kind of friend am I? Trickier, still. I think I’m a good friend, when I let people in. I’m a good listener. I “give” people space to be who they are without judgment. I do my best to follow the Golden Rule. I can keep a secret. I call my friends on their personal BS in order to help them see all sides and not simply their own. When we communicate. Apparently, I am NOT a good friend because I don’t keep in constant communication with people all the time. No reason or excuse. It’s just not me.
I once read an article that spoke about different kinds of personalities and though I didn’t know the term existed, I identified with “introverted extrovert”. Sounds like a massive rationalization, but it describes me. I am a writer and tend to live inside my head. I like it there. I’m safe in there. No one can hurt me. When I’m invited to go places, sometimes I accept but most of the time I’m broke so I don’t. I know I have friends who don’t have a problem paying my way, but all the time? Besides, I was raised in a “God bless the child who has its own” household.
I’m also the kind of writer who, for better or worse, saves words for her fiction and characters’ dialogue. I don’t tend to be able to verbalize what’s in my head in a coherent manner. I guess that’s why I love to write. I can think about what I want to say, how I want to say it and to consider whether or not it should be said in the first place, while staring at a blank page or screen. If I open my mouth, well, let’s just say I suffer from “foot-in-mouth” disease. Either that, or …**crickets**… because I have nothing to say.
Now, sure I can keep in contact via Facebook or Twitter or any of the other myriad social networking sites available to us, but at the end of the day it seems that’s not enough to retain some friendships.
I like people, er, most of the time. I like engaging with them and getting to know them. I like learning how to see the world through others’ eyes. I like connecting with people and learning from them and, perhaps imparting some ideas/thoughts that sorta-kinda resemble words of wisdom so they can learn from me.
But, back to the constant contact, thing. This seems to be a pre-requisite for being a “good” friend. I’m not sure why. I have a friend who I’ve known since 1990. She is a bit of a nomad, so we don’t get to see each other that often. When we think about each other, or see something we know the other would appreciate, we contact one another. I don’t speak to her consistently, but our affection for each other has not diminished. In fact, it has only gotten stronger over the years. I am grateful for and blessed by our friendship. We’ve accepted the way in which our friendship expresses itself.
Acceptance is an amazing thing. If one were granting wishes mine would be about my friends; that they would accept me for me, as I have done and still do for them. Accept that though they may not hear from me, it doesn’t mean that I don’t like/love them anymore. It doesn’t mean that I am ignoring or abandoning them. It only means that I am, at all times, simply being me. The “me” you liked in the first place. The “me” that made you want to call me “friend”.
I hope this isn’t coming across as a “whine”. It isn’t meant to be. I’m trying to figure out if, while I’m growing as a person, I need to adjust my outlook with regards to friends and people in my life. I like being alone. I like my company. I like living inside my head. I also like hanging out with and engaging with my peers. However, if my peers who are my friends don’t contact me out of some “tit-for-tat” reason: “Well, if she’s not going to keep in touch, why should I?”; do I really need these people in my life? Am I lonely? Sometimes. Does that mean I need to change who I am to no longer be lonely? It’s one thing to change a character flaw or bad habit, but to change that which makes one who they are… Is having friends really worth it? I don’t know.