I marvel at the ability of my girls to make friends. They are unencumbered; they walk up to anyone anywhere and strike up a conversation. They run off with the nearest child at the playground. They create alternate realities with anyone willing to play fantasy with them. They can play for hours with another child they just met.
The truly amazing part is they have no idea the name of the child they just spent half the day with. They barely remember anything about the child other than the fact that they had a blast as they beg to see him or her again.
At what point does making and sustaining friends become so difficult? When do we stop being open to befriending new people? When do we start caring about appearances, names, professions, and other things (that in the grand scheme don’t really matter?)
Haven’t we all experienced a friend break-up that crushed us? Mine was in 10th grade when I lost my best friend to petty high school drama. I feel like women spend our teen years and early twenties navigating the seas of friendship. These are the experimental years that prepare us for the rest of our lives. We learn what type of people we mesh with, our personal boundaries, and what we are willing to put up with from a “friend.” By the time we reach our thirties, or (gulp) forties, we know what type of person we can (and can’t) be friends with.
Recently, I visited one of my best friends who lives 1,800 miles away. Distance may keep us apart for extended periods of time, but our connection transcends space. She has supported me at my lowest point and celebrated the highs. Our friendship is effortless. It near broke my heart when she told me about the drama she has experienced with so-called friends. Seriously, we are in our late thirties/early forties, shouldn’t friendship be easy at this point in our lives?
After spending just 48 hours together, she sent me a text telling me that she is so grateful for our friendship and that she was beginning to doubt that she was even worthy of having good friends. What?! This woman is absolutely incredible. It breaks my heart to think she was second guessing herself like this. Why, as women, can we treat each other so horribly?
My college roommates are some of my closest friends. Over the past 22 years, we have seen each other though marriages, divorces, cancer, the birth of our children, miscarriages, and even death. We have an irrevocable bond, one that is hard to recreate in adulthood. I often wonder if it is possible to forge that type of friendship later in life, is the length of a friendship directly correlated to its depth?
But just yesterday I spend the day with a friend I met just 4 years ago and realize that she and I have that type of relationship I share with those in my life that I have known for decades. She knows about the best and worst of my life, the only difference is that she didn’t know me when many of these experiences occurred. Yet she is still one of the most supportive and closest friends I have. She made me realize that it is possible to make strong, deep friendships later in life; you just need to find the right people.
Through all of my pondering on friendship, I have no advice on how to find the right people. I do know that it is okay not to be friends with every person you meet. There are certain people you meet in life that you simply click with. When that happens, be ready to make an effort to expand and continue the friendship. Pursuing new friendships in adulthood might be harder than it was in childhood, but can be just as rewarding.