Friends are really hard to make as an adult. As a kid, a friend was anyone who also enjoyed the sand box and eating popsicles. It was really easy to have and make friends when that was the criteria. But what about when you’re an adult? I can’t imagine myself seeing a stranger at the grocery store, who happens to also be purchasing toilet paper and kombucha, and thinking “Wow, that person has enough in common with me to be my friend”.
There are cases where friendships are born out of necessity as an adult. For example, during my first two years of teaching, I worked at a school where I was incredibly unhappy. Luckily for me, most of the staff at that school had similar feelings. Many of us became friends and most of us were at least friendly with each other as we walked through the halls, sharing similar looks of depression. People there became friends out of desperation. We needed something somewhat positive to look forward to. As people left the school, they stopped being a friend to those who remained there. You realized that all you had in common with the people who had been your so-called friend was that you both absolutely hated your job.
Then there’s the longevity friend. You know, the friend you’ve know for over half your life and you couldn’t bear to lose the friendship. It’s a bit like your longest credit line. It’s a credit card with terrible perks, no travel benefits and a low limit, but I keep it around because it helps my credit score. Most of your time spent together is spent reminiscing. This “friend” may irritate the hell out of you. You may not even particularly like this person, however, in respect to longevity, you keep this friend.
These two “friendships” I described are not what a friendship should be. I’ve recently spent a lot of time thinking about what being a friend means to me. I’ve thought about energy balance and friendship. I’ve thought about friendship and how they align to my chakras (JUST KIDDING – THAT’S SOME REAL WOOWOO STUFF RIGHT THERE). After all that thinking, I’ve decided that I am not going to keep friendships because of longevity. I am no longer going to seek friendships out due to desperation or situations. I’m going to continue to foster the incredible friendships that I have with incredible people, and let go of what no longer gives me energy.
When I say “gives me energy,” I mean this: everything you do takes energy. Getting up in the morning. Sending a text message. Driving. ALL OF IT TAKES SOMETHING FROM YOU. Thankfully, this world also has many situations that give energy back to you as well. For example, it may take a lot of energy for me to go the gym, but I feel an abundance of energy as a result of going. Getting up early takes energy, as I love sleeping in, but I feel far more energy because I took time before the day started to relax and read. In terms of friendships, it takes energy to maintain these relationships. Going out, especially as an introvert, can drain my energy. When I go out with a friend who is a true friend, I leave feeling energized, despite the energy that I spent. I leave with ideas and excitement. I have decided that I can no longer be friends with those people who leave me with feeling drained and exhausted. My energy is of value to me. My friendships that give me energy are of value to me.
When thinking of friendships, you need to think about what you need from a friendship. What traits do you value? I value honesty and advice. I value humor and sarcasm. When you ask a child what a good friend is, a lot of them will say it’s “someone nice”. There are too many nice people in the world – they can’t all be your friends. Be friends with people who help you grow. Find people who challenge you and make you think outside of your usual box of thought. Surround yourself with those that uplift you and make you excited about life.
Friendship as an adult is hard. Find friends, becoming friends, maintaining friends. It’s difficult. It’s work. Don’t invest your time in friends who you don’t truly see as friends. Ain’t nobody got time for dat, you hear?