Surrounding yourself with true and authentic friendship.
There was something about turning 30 that helped me reconnect with my inner child — as far as who I decided to be friends with anyways. Or, another term that gave me a little giggle the first time I heard it from a friend, was that I found my “f*** off fairy”, which usually reveals itself at this end of an era. Whether it’s this inner child mentality or that sassy little fairy, hear me out.
Think back to kindergarten… if little Sally Simpson was being a little you know what on the monkey bars, you would say “later alligator” and play with someone you enjoyed… right? So why as adults do we feel we need to spend time with someone who doesn’t make us genuinely happy?
Sure, as an adult we may not be as forward about telling “little Sally” to get lost, but we can respectfully pull away from those that don’t serve us and bring joy to our life. For friendships to withstand the test of time, you gotta hang on through all of the ups and downs. Because let’s be honest, friendship are not always be champagne boomerangs and selfies (although, I am a supporter of both of those things.) Life happens. Maybe we lost a loved one and are immensely sad. Maybe we are fighting with our spouse and need to vent, or maybe our toddler is unleashing tantrum after tantrum and we are a shrivelled up version of ourselves during that coffee date. Whether we are living our best life or getting through some tough times, I believe that there are a handful of fundamentals that should be present for an authentic friendship to be possible.
1. Don’t treat me like a hunk of junk
Obviously! (insert eye roll here) But, why is it that we allow people that are supposed to love and respect us, to treat us so poorly? If you can’t add your two cents to a group conversation without being disrespectfully disregarded, then maybe it’s time to find some peeps that are up for the challenge of discussing an opinion that differs from their own. Cut the snide comments and allow one another the space to speak our mind. As friends, we should be able to say how we feel and even if we don’t agree with one another, we need to maintain the respect. I want those alongside me to be able to speak their truth. Being friends doesn’t always mean feeling the exact same way — it means loving each other regardless.
Or, let’s say you got a little too drunk and loud at the yearly Christmas party and you’re being a little obnoxious… okay a lot obnoxious. A ‘non treat you like caca friend’, would take you aside and calmly tell you that maybe it’s time to call a cab girlfriend. Or better yet, hop in that cab with you and hit the McDonalds drive through on the way home. What they wouldn’t do, is roll their eyes and talk smack about you in the bathroom with the other girls. Basically, just be a nice person. Do your girl a solid and get her a McChicken.
2. Show up when it’s time to show up
There are a few life moments that cannot be replicated. Once they are gone, they are gone and if you weren’t present for them, then those memories will always be without you and that’s kind of a bummer. If you didn’t come meet my newborn baby until he was six months old, well… derp. That’s probably going to be a bit of a sore spot for like… eternity. Sure, I won’t hold it over you and make you overtly feel crappy about it, but it will always be there. Was it the mesh underwear that scared you away? It was, wasn’t it. I swear they have all been burned! But for real… meet babies, go to weddings, celebrate birthdays, help move into new homes, attend the memorial — you gotta show up.
3. Make an effort
I get it. Life gets busy. But if you can go on elaborate weekend getaways two times a month and meet friends for drinks on a Tuesday evening, then I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think that you should be able to make some time for me. Okay sure, I have two busy kids and I live in the burbs — but dangit, if you make an effort to keep in touch, I will skip nap (GASP) and make the trek with the entire circus to spend some quality time. Some of the closest friends I have now are because of effort on both sides. They call me, I call them, they come to the burbs, I go to them. Give and take people, it’s a real and beautiful thing!
4. Include me
Invite me to every silly girls weekend, even if you are certain I won’t be able to make it because I’m busy cleaning dirty diapers and entertaining a couple of lunatic toddlers and surely I wouldn’t want to get away from the chaos… surely! (Please let me come, please! Did someone say wine and adult conversation?!) I digress. It may feel like you are doing most of the inviting — okay, because you probably are. Let’s be honest, I have very few fun excursions on the calendar right now. But I swear, if I did have a booming social life, you would be invited to it. Learning about a hen party via social media while you’re at home watching The Real Housewives hurts — every damn time. But it also makes me think that either A) you just don’t really like my company (which is a little awkward because I think I’m pretty fun! I mean, I did bathe fully clothed in a kitchen sink once.) or B) My feelings are falling to the waist side. Both kinda suck. So, just include me k?
5. We have to be able to hash it out
There is absolutely zero chance that we will always get along or agree on everything. So, when we have an issue, I need to know that we will be able to talk about it and either come to an understanding or respectfully agree to disagree. Nothing warrants being deliberately ignored and personally, this sends me to crazy town. It’s not pretty — straight up ‘Black Swan’ over here. We gotta be able to make time to hash it out regardless of what is going on in our lives, because we all have things going on. We have to be able to communicate. Probably best to give the ol’ hands a rest and set up a chat via phone call or in person. It is no secret that issues are almost always resolved lightyears quicker when a real conversation is had, leaving no room for misinterpreting tone or texting in circles. Phewf, we have all been there and those text wars can make for a long night.
6. Support one another
Even if you think your friends idea to go to school in Las Vegas is potentially just an excuse to party, support her. She’s an adult and chances are she isn’t asking for your approval. On the flip side, if you think it’s a dope idea, tell her. Toot her horn! And, if she’s on the fence about it and coming to you for advice, lift her up, motivate her to follow her dreams — even if you selfishly want her to stay.
Or, for you mamas out there. Maybe, you think your friend is coddling her baby by sitting up with him multiple times a night and you want to shake her and tell her she’s doing it all wrong. Take a deep breath and bite thy tongue. Sure you may be a little tired of hearing her say how tired she is, but listening to your friends sleep deprived desperation is your civic duty. Maybe as you are hugging her and telling her she is doing the best she can, quietly whisper the name of a sleep coach on repeat. (Cough cough, Heavy Eyes Happy Hearts shout out here.) My point is, that there is a time and a place to insert your opinion. Being able to recognize when it’s time to be a shoulder to lean on or when it is in fact time for a little tough love, is a magical skill (that I am also still working on.)
7. Allow one another to be candid
Genuine friendship shouldn’t feel like you’re walking on eggshells, scared to say the wrong thing. If you do slip up, your friend should be able to call you out respectfully. I remember being on a girls trip when I was maybe 21. I was in the kitchen with one of my closest friends and we got into some sort of heated topic. I said something overtly snippy and she calmly replied with “I feel like that was a bit rude!” It made me stop for a second and think about it. I realized she was probably right. I replied by saying, “you’re right. I’m sorry. I love you, ha!” She laughed back and we moved on. I KNOW I KNOW! Amazing, right? But isn’t that how it should be? Like, slow your role, but also, I love you. This incident was at least ten years ago and she probably wouldn’t even remember it, but to this day, I still feel like it was such a good example of genuine friendship. That leads me to my last fundamental.
8. Can’t we all just love each other and get along?
Spending time with friends should be fun. It should be easy. You should laugh. You should cry. Go deep, talk about life, real life. Be your damn self. If you lose touch for a while, try not to be a bitter betty when you do reconnect. Let it go (I know you are all hearing that Frozen song right about now) and bring all that love and light that’s deep down within you. If hanging out with someone feels like work or makes you feel like you need to poop, then you should probably find someone else to watch The Bachelor with. Just sayin’.
Now, I’m not saying that I am not guilty of not embodying some of these fundamentals. Surely, I have people in my life that are rolling their eyes right about now, muttering “Bye Felicia” under their breath. That’s okay. We are all entitled to decide who we want in our circle and if I didn’t make the cut, I hope you know that I’m not over here making you into a voodoo doll.
Lastly, the art of reconnection. I recently had lunch with an old friend that I haven’t seen much over the last few years. Not because of anything terribly awful — mostly just that we had been on different life paths. But you know what’s cool? You can grow up! With age and maturity comes the ability to reflect on yourself, let go of the animosity and rebuild from a totally different place. All of a sudden all these years later, we sat across the table from one another agreeing about so many of our core values and recognizing that how we had behaved in the past was foolish. There were no hard feelings, just two women that really love each other and want the best for one other. Well shoot… look at us, being all adult and stuff!
Establish your boundaries. Know your worth. Surround yourself with genuine people that bring value to your life. Keep the love in your heart and always remember that you choose who you want around. You’re not in middle school anymore — if you’ve decided it’s time to be “friends off” with someone, the entire gaggle of girls wont disown you, leaving you to eat your lunch alone in the bathroom. Yes, I’m preaching to myself here too.
So, if you’re in your 30’s and you still have some ‘Sally’s’ hanging around — well you just dust off those fairy wings girl and go ahead and fly right off into that magical land of authentic friendship.
*Insert massive glitter explosion*