I’ll be forty in just under six months.
(I think maybe I keep writing it so that it doesn’t seem so shocking when I get there.)
And I think I might be finally getting an idea on friendships. After all these years. You’d think I could have figured this out years ago, but alas, no. It’s taken me time to really understand the true value of friendship and how authentic friendships are truly a gift.
So here you go. Seven real truths about friendships.
1. Friendship isn’t an obligation, but is a gift. This. Sometimes friendships feel like more work then friends. They’re the moments when you don’t know how someone will respond. As soon as a relationship turns to an obligation – I did this therefore I expect you to do this – then the gift of the friendship is lost. Friendship shouldn’t be about worrying about waking a sleeping giant, but should rather be a place of safety, love, and honestly, trust. You shouldn’t ever have to worry about a friend and their trust or fulfilling an obligation to keep them happy. A friend loves you and your heart even if sometimes you don’t always make sense. They value you. Not always needing to “get” you.
2. Friends treat you with respect. I’ve seen this in the lives of those I care for. I’ve dealt with it – this treat you poorly, skeptical, mouth off moments and then the polar opposite and instead of ever changing the individual continues behaving that way. And for a long, long, long time I allowed myself to be treated poorly by constantly allowing the love/hate/love/hate cycle to continue. Then, one day, I realized that anyone who thinks that they can treat someone incredibly poorly or disrespectfully in one moment and then the next week treat you like you’re their bff isn’t really a true friend. In fact, at a certain point, it’s okay to step away and to value you and break out of the cycle. Friends make mistakes, yes. But constantly flip-flopping with the presupposition that because you’re friends you’ll deal with anything – well, at a certain point, the answer is no. I just told a friend that when a friend messages you and you have dread with opening the note then, then, that’s probably not someone you should align yourself with.
3. Friends don’t talk behind your back. For real. Friends defend you. Friends are there for you. Friends are the ones who you can call in the middle of the night and know that your words, your heart, and your emotions are safe with them. It’s such a critical part of friendship – this deep trust that was in point one. Speak well of your friends. Remember, those who gossip to you about others probably gossip about you. And, friends also respect your other friends and treat them well. Bottom line. In business we align ourselves with those who love the team. It’s the same with friends.
4. A real friend is one who makes you a better you. You know the phrase iron sharpens iron? Well that’s what friendship is about. I need my friends to tell me whoa whoa whoa girl don’t do that or that’s awesome or lets keep trying. Friends are willing to speak up and tell you the hard things. Friends are the ones who are there cheering you on and believing in you when you don’t know if you can do it. Friends love you for you. Plain and simple.
5. Friends don’t compare or compete with each other. Competition and comparison erode at joy and chip away at friendships. It’s easy to compare. I get it. Oh my word, do I really get it. But, here’s the deal, just like I talked about in the 31 Day Finding Joy Challenge — when we compare with each other we oftentimes aren’t believing the truth about being enough. It’s awesome that your friend is awesome at things — different things than us. That’s great. That’s what makes us stronger. When we live knowing that we’re enough, then we can support, love, and encourage those around us. That’s true friendship.
6. Friends are there for you. My dear friend Amy has told me that I can call her at 4am. I know it. I believe it. And if I needed to I would call her without hesitation. My friend Maria has dropped everything to come sit with me on those hard days. My friend Tracy drove to the Minneapolis Children’s Hospital to simply visit Samuel and me when we were there a couple years ago. Friends are there for you. That’s the kind of friend you want and should be. Be there for those who love, value, and cherish having you in your life.
7. Friends love you. For you. Not for being perfect. Or for having the perfect house (in fact, open the door and let a friend in no matter what your house looks like. And don’t apologize either. Just be you). Or for having perfect kids. Or perfect lives. Or any of that. Friends love you for you. For your quirks, silliness, up days, down days, and all of that. That? That’s a life gift.
Seven truths about friendship. What would you add?
Be a friend.
To all my friends – thank you. I love you.