Talking with a colleague at work the other day, she discussed feeling sad that one of her friends was feeling lonely. This friend was struggling with various things in her life and was isolated as she only had one or two people that she could go to for support. My colleague had recommended for her to go to counselling and get some help but would continue to try and support her as best as she could. This got me thinking. It got me thinking about friendships and how fortunate I am in this regard. I started considering my friends, other people’s friends and the power of a good friend to change your entire life. I have a lot of friends. I don’t say that to brag, but rather just acknowledge that I am a person who is social and has people she can spend time with. They all have a different impact on my life and upon reflection, I feel fortunate that I have these social relationships that have helped to foster who I am.
“I would rather have 1 amazing best friend than 100 decent regular friends. It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality.”– Connor Franta
Some of these people are casual friends. I will meet them for coffee or supper every once in a while, to catch up but we don’t talk on a regular basis. When we do meet up, nothing has changed and we are able to tell each other what has been happening and the changes in our lives. These friends, although casual, are still important. It is these friends that give me a sense of community when I am feeling isolated. The conversations are light, fun and with laughter and tales of entertainment from recent months. They are those conversations had under the dim lights of a pub, having a drink after work and needing to unwind. They are made for relaxation and decompression and without them I would be missing a huge outlet.
Then I have my close friends. I would describe myself as having about ten close friends. It is those friends who you can call in the middle of the night when you are broke down and need a drive. Or that friend you text when you are fighting with your spouse and just want to go bitch for a bit. Or that friend who shows up and sits beside you on the couch when you are depressed, or sad or feeling overwhelmed with life. Each of those friends will drop everything to do what needs to be done and I know I can rely on them for whatever. And I am so fortunate to have them. They all teach me something and it is their relationships that help me to develop who I am today.
And because each of them are different and unique, they all bring things to our friendships that are just as different or unique as them.
One of them is my hard ass. She will call me on my shit when I am being too hard on myself. She knows my faults and loves me anyway. She is someone who knows when I am struggling but also knows that pushing me does not always work. She will ask why I have been ghosting her, meet me to eat crap food and than complain with me after when we both feel sick. She is that friend I can show up at her house, looking like crap, and she has a room ready for me whether it is for one night, five nights or two weeks. She is my comfort friend. And I need that. I can go to her in whatever state I am, be vulnerable, and be okay. She has seen all the ugly and shares her own making us on even ground in our shit. We both have shit. We both have extra baggage but we navigate it together, and apart, depending on what we need.
One of them is my intellectual friend. She is intelligent and smart and will sit down and talk to me about anything and everything. Whether we are discussing the latest book we read or a documentary we binge watched on the weekend, we are learning from each other. She is steady and strong and loyal. She takes all my moods with a grain of salt and will challenge me when I am being unreasonable. She knows things and will share those things with me when, and if I am, ready to hear them. We build our relationship through honesty, intelligence and sharing information in a way that keeps us both sharp and sensible.
Then I have my wise friend. This is the friend who is older than me and has a lot more life experience than I do. She lives far away from me and still makes a point to stay in touch. She has faced challenges in her life that I cannot even fathom and takes it all with her chin in the air and a laissez-faire attitude. I envy her. She is so smart and so kind and is the first to show me different perspective or tell me I am being unfair. She is quirky and different than the rest of my friends and it is the best part of her. She is who she is, warts and all, and she is confident without being arrogant. Her knowledge is powerful and I use it whenever I can.
Another is my empowerment friend. She is one of the best because she is always positive, not annoyingly so, and gives credit where credit is due. She is strong willed and opinionated and kind. She also has a heart that I don’t think I have seen as strong in another human being. She has a tendency to build up all around her and in way that is not fake or pretend. Her life has been hard, in a variety of ways, and yet she continues to push through, be brave and kind. If she tells you something, you know its true. If she says you look good, or did good, she is sincere. She takes the time to show you kindness and has taught me how to look at myself as a whole instead of just my flaws. I have learned what it means to be sexy, proud and confident through her and that has changed me in extraordinary ways.
Lastly, and definitely not any less important, I have my long-term friends. These are the friends that have known me for over ten years and has seen me in all of my youthful mistakes. We may have lived in different provinces, not talking for years on end, and yet we are still as strong and tight as ever. One of them is just like me. Outspoken, loud and rambunctious. The other is my total opposite; quiet, unimposing and shy. Yet, they both are there. Period. There when I need them. There when I don’t. And everything in between. They are those friends who send me a text saying, “where the hell have you been” and planning a time to hang out and catch up. The best part of catching up is that they know me. They know my history, my story and my choices. There is no explaining with them and it just makes it feel easy in a way that is insanely satisfying.
And these are just some of them. I can count on my hands the number of solid good friends that I have and in saying that I know how truly privileged that is. When you ask what makes a good friend? It is unanswerable. Friendship is meant to be flexible, and the good friends are the ones who are good for YOU. Your needs, desires and wants are not the same as mine and that’s why if you are as lucky as me, you will also have those friends. The hard ass one. The honest one. The late-night on the town one. Whichever friends work for you.