Guest post by Lauren from BecomingWellthy.com
There is something to be said about an old friend. The ones who weave in and out of your life like ribbons. You can go months without talking to them, and then suddenly they are back in your life like there was never an absence. They are the ones who know the best of you, the worst of you, and everything in between.
I have a dear friend like that. Good friends since our teens, we have been separated over the years not by bad things or choice, just by circumstance. And when we need each other, its like we pop back into each others lives without knowing why. Despite what is going on in her life, she always has a good piece of advice, or an encouraging word. I feel like I go through life looking for connections like this with every friend I make, only to realize that sometimes the important ones have been there all along. Minus the few that have actually become my new old friends I will have for life. They are just hiding in the sidelines, waiting for the right moment to pop up and cheer you on.
Quality vs Quantity
Something happened though on my way to my mid-thirties (I still gasp sometimes when I realize that’s MY age). I started to become more aware of people’s energy. Are they draining or inspiring? I realized you really can’t expect to live a positive life if you surround yourself with negative people. Are they interested in what I have going on, and vice versa? Sometimes we hold onto something just because it has been around for a long time, although you really don’t have a need for it. Like your great grandmother’s crystal you aren’t sure will ever make it out of the hutch, but you surely can’t get rid of it?
In this day and age, social media makes it easy for you to feel like you are connecting in people’s life. You see photos of their vacations, their family, what they ate for dinner, who they spent the day with and you suddenly think oh yea, me and “friend” are super close. I know a lot about what is going on with her. But do you, really? We all know that what people post on social media is generally 85% of what is actually going on in their life. A keeper friend knows not only the highlight reels, but the pains and struggles. They are the people who reach out to you not just to scream and vent and hear some good words, but also to see what’s going on with you and cheer you on as well. They are the ones, like I talked about earlier, who may go silent for months at a time and then pop up just to say, “Hey! I miss you and I love you! Let’s chat soon!” And then you have an hour long conversation, you vent and cheer each other on and then poof – you both go dormant again until the time is right.
“You need to associate with people that inspire you, people that challenge you to rise higher, people that make you better. Don’t waste your valuable time with people that are not adding to your growth. Your destiny is too important.” Joel Osteen
Should You Clean Up Your Friend House?
I don’t believe you should ever “get rid” of people – unless they truly are a toxic suck in your life. But there is such a thing as just breaking off from them. You still care about them, and always will but sometimes there is just nothing there. Are there certain people you think of when something phenomenal is happening in your life and you can’t wait to share? Because you know that they are going to cheer you on! Do you have a friend who you think of when you have something bad to share, but you know they will be giving you the strongest advice you need? Hold on to those. Sometimes you may not like what they have to say, but they are doing it out of love. Don’t confuse that with negativity.
As I grow up (because face it – do we ever stop growing up?), I realize it’s less important to have a ton of friends, and more important to have real ones. I believe you should surround yourself with people who push you. Who challenge you. Who make you laugh. Who make you better. Who make you happy. If one of your friends doesn’t fit into one of those categories, why are you holding on? There is nothing selfish about deciding who belongs in your circle. It’s your circle. Why should anyone else decide?
Keeping Friends As You Get Older
Once you have looked around and realized who brings you joy, you still have to put forth the effort in keeping a connection with your friends. Sure, you may call them when you have things you need to talk about but do you also call them to just check in? Just to say I’m thinking about you? Even if it’s one of those friends that pops in 3 times a year, make sure you pop in to their lives a few times as well. I’m not going to lie – I am not a big phone talker. I would rather shoot someone a text then pick up the phone and have a conversation. My good friends know this about me ???? But once I get over it, and actually talk to a good friend on the phone I laugh at the idea that I despised it in the first place. Because usually that short conversation was so incredibly awesome.
I know in this phase of life, it’s hard to keep up with friends when we have relationships, kids and careers we’re juggling. But here is a small list of things I think are kind gestures when staying connected with friends:
– Remember their birthdays. And don’t rely on Facebook to remind you! I don’t have my birthday showing on Facebook for that reason. I don’t want people who really don’t care to send me birthday wishes. Call me lame if you want. But really – put your good friends birthdays in your calendar. Mail them a card. Make one if you have to. Heck these days you can send some fabulously hilarious e-cards. But always remember their birthdays with more than just a post on their wall. I know life gets busy, and remembering everything is hard. So if you slip once, its not the end all be all. But try and make it up to them next year. Even the friends who say “I hate birthdays, I don’t celebrate.” I think they secretly appreciate your gesture.
– Remember their goals and dreams – and ask them about them! Sometimes people are afraid to share the latest thing they are dreaming up for fear of backlash. Show them you remember they mentioned it, and be genuinely interested in what they have to say about it. You can tell when people aren’t really paying attention. Trust me.
– Make time for short phone calls. These days with time being so precious to a busy person, sometimes the idea of carving out 2 hours for dinner seems daunting. Catching up over multiple short phone calls over the course of a month is sometimes better than a full on 2 hour crash course in what’s been going on in their life. Still don’t like the phone? Well then….
– Send an email. Short, quick emails are can be as important as phone calls. If someone sends you an email, don’t put it off until you have time to respond (which will be never). Take a few minutes to answer them, and then keep the chain going.
Here is a great video to watch about maintaining old friendships!
Finding Friends As You Get Older
In my younger days, I would go out any weeknight to meet anyone for drinks. Now I would rather spend an evening with my husband and Netflix. It would take something pretty exciting to get me to choose otherwise. I recently read a great article that talks about the difficulty of finding friends in your 30’s and even more so when you have a significant other. Marla Paul, author of “The Friendship Crisis: Finding, Making, and Keeping Friends When You’re Not a Kid Anymore”, says that the bar is higher than when we were younger when we were willing to meet almost anyone for a margarita.
Here are some great ways to make and maintain friends as you get into your thirties:
– Don’t wait. It takes courage to make the first step. If you think someone has friendship potential, ask them out for a drink.
– You aren’t creepy. Most people think they will come off as creepy. I bet the other person is thinking the same thing about themselves. What have you got to lose?
– Don’t look for perfection. You aren’t going to marry this person (and you shouldn’t seek out perfection in a spouse, either). In my 30’s I prefer someone who has lived a little and screwed up once or twice. Someone who is practically perfect is going to expect the same from me, and that isn’t going to happen
– If you don’t know where to even look, there are actually websites that are girlfriend seekers. Girlfriend Circles is one of them!
– It takes about 6-8 interactions with someone to really consider them a friend. So make those dates and keep them. Then, you can graduate the frequent phone conversations and once every few month drink dates
– Be choosy. Find friends that fill very specific needs. There is the cocktail friend, the book reading friend, the friend you see movies with, the friend with kids my kids age. These friends may end up meeting the expectations of forever friend down the road.
I’ve been lucky in life to be blessed with great people I have called friends over the years. Each one of them came into my life and taught me something about myself, whether or not we still talk today. I also have four sisters, which makes it easy having built in girlfriends. But I have also weeded out the people that just don’t fit my mold as “BFF.” Again, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t important to me and that I don’t care about them. It just means I won’t always want to carve out precious time for them. And at the end of the day, don’t you matter the most?
Lauren spends her downtime sharing her ideas and blogging about wellth. Nope, that’s not a typo! Wellth is about finding happiness, health and abundance in the small things. You might need a million dollars to be wealthy, but certainly not to be wellthy. She shares her quest to find real joy – and how to make your way through all of it with a sense of humor. She does not declare herself a certified therapist, financial adviser or even a comedian. Just a simple girl who lost her job and decided to throw caution to the wind to pursue a little happiness, trying to navigate it all with a little wit.
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