Isn’t it astounding how easy it is to lose track of our friends now that we’re all “grown-up” and “mature”? Our daily lives are so bombarded by digging for our cell phones and tightening the email leash that we hardly remember to keep in contact with our friends. But our excuse for not calling is not having enough time to play a decent game of catch-up. The never-ending saga continues as we procrastinate, and as time passes, we branch off from the day to day happenings in our friends’ lives.
Whether you are single or married, breeding or not, exclusively dating someone, or have taken vows with your job, having a firm friendship with a small group of people becomes as difficult as remembering to take all of your vitamins. There’s no denying that spending time with your friends is as important as fueling your body for a workout and as dressing appropriately for the symphony, but sometimes there’s no escaping geographically-challenged friendships. Some of us are miles away from our best friends, and others are right down the street. With today’s technology oozing out of every store, distance should not be an issue. But even those nearby have to coordinate their schedules to visit.
Without a bowl of friends to pick from, how do we cope with life’s unexpected lemons? We need friends to share things with, whether it be a pregnancy, a new promotion or just the necessary venting session that festers inside of you when someone makes a bogus move at the bank. This is when the “serenity now” mantra comes in handy. Who we call upon for that release simply changes as we age.
There are friends for every stage of our lives. It’s rare for childhood friends to not drive off the map. You may have married your high school sweetheart, and others may just laugh at the fact that they even thought about marrying that person. College may develop friendships and sometimes conjure up a spouse, but in college you are still young and wide-eyed. Most friends don’t end up fitting in with where you are going and the goals that you want to accomplish. These are the days of our fleeting friends.
As you gain more world exposure and develop new interests and talents, some friends may follow suit, and others may be trapped in the past or not accept your path. Regardless of what happens, choosing the right friends for your life is crucial to your own personal growth and for the growth of that friend. It’s those who are dream pushers, not dream stoppers, you want in your life. Friends who don’t support you should be tossed out with your day-glow clothing from 1989.
Hold on to relationships dearly that have persevered through those unavoidable troublesome periods in life. We all have gone through our stages and will continue to do so as we get older. Have your friends been there through them all? If they withstand all of the growing pains and still love you, even more than they did before, then don’t give them up! Don’t always look for friends outside of your family, either, because friendship comes in many forms.
It can be the friendship that is developed between a son and father after the son gets married. That friendship can be most beneficial for the marriage. Or it might be the evolution of the relationship between a mother and daughter having gone through similar stresses, as they have grown into sound and intelligent women.
So how do we keep our friendships warm and alive? There are essential nutrients needed to build a friendship structure. Tradition is among the most important. Whether it be a traditional day and time for a phone call, game night or buying Christmas ornaments each year for each other, a tradition or two must be observed. If you are trying to hold the reins steady on a long-distance friendship, greeting cards are the secret to success.
If that friend receives a card by snail mail, it means even more. Emails are impersonal and lack the ever-coveted heart-string pull or stomachache-inducing laugh. Although it’s nice to know whether someone is thinking about you or not, it’s much better to receive something unexpected. When you finally do catch-up and have your long awaited bonding session, absorb it all.
“Girls’ Night Out” is not at all necessary to keep the relationship alive, and if you are married, it’s difficult to pull off such nights anyhow. Guys’ Poker Night in a smoky basement wearing ridiculous plastic visors isn’t necessary either. It’s the relationships that those nights foster that have to be reinforced as we get older and our society pushes us to get busier. Learning to appreciate the hug, the hand shake, the laughter and the tears as a part of the human craving for friendship will only develop a stronger connection between you and your loved ones.
I would love to think friendships will last a lifetime. But who are we kidding? Our life choices bring friends in and out of our revolving door; some swivel back in, and others go out into the street looking for a new place to hang. The hardest part of losing a friendship is just that—loss.
What must be remembered is friendship is not a one-way street in downtown San Francisco. It’s something that has to be desired and shared on both sides. Don’t be the friend who always does it all for the other, and don’t be the lazy friend either! Share in building a stronger relationship and make it a priority. If you don’t, that friend will turn into an acquaintance and then a dusty memory.
Don’t allow your friendships to just be pictures in a photo album. Embrace them, value them, and cherish the chemistry that originally brought you together. That union must be held tight. Remember to plant, water, feed and prune your trees of friendship so their roots will extend deeper and be a powerful foundation.