Do you ever wish humans had a 30 second trailer so we could all see what we were getting ourselves into? I do. Someone needs to invent an app for this.
I once had a ‘friend’ tell me: ‘Fiona, I love you, but I’d never hang out with you alone, you’re so boring!’ Needless to say, she isn’t really my ‘friend’ anymore; that comment sat with me for a while though.
This happened after I found myself having drinks with her while we waited for mutual friends to join us and hang out. It was one of those nights waaaaay before I discovered what a joy it is hanging out at home, with my kin, Baileys in hand, braless with an endless supply of TV & my favourite snacks. I forgave her though. I forgive people by forgetting about them: a coping mechanism I suppose, but maybe more because the greatest freedom is having nothing to prove.
The thing is; I think my personality confuses people, I enjoy being alone, but I’m very outgoing and social. My environment will often dictate how I behave. Sometimes I’m loud. Sometimes I’m quiet. I read the energy and adjust. There are times when I want to turn up, and there are moments when I want to listen to one of my playlists, read a good book, or process my thoughts, alone. And I’d like to think understanding this about me isn’t too much to ask from a good friend.
Friendships fascinate me by how simple they are, but also how incredibly complex they can be. This is mostly the case when you’ve had to live in different countries and experience a couple of life-changing circumstances.
Skye, who I met when I was living in Mbabane, was my first best friend. To be fair, her mom was homeschooling both of us, so we had to be friends because we were in each other’s faces all the time. She quickly 'graduated' to best friend because of how genuine I found her to be. She opened up her home to me with such love and told me she felt just as comfortable in ours.
We shared everything - laughter, dolls, teddy bears, food, to mention but a few. But life happened: I had to move back to Uganda, and I later learned that she too left Swaziland and as a result, we never stayed in touch. I did try to find her a couple of years ago and learned that she was living in Mexico at the time.
Unsurprisingly, the chemistry we had when we were younger wasn’t the same - we’d both evolved into different people, which is fine as I’m not one to force things. But I'm still grateful for the impact that friendship had on my life and the standards it set for what a good friendship could be.
Today, I have some of the fewest, but most profound friendships I’ve ever had. I’ve worked to cultivate these relationships over time, regardless of geography. Sometimes I’m in a room full of people and can feel like I’m alone until my fingers lead me to chats with my tribe of friends all over the world.
These friends serve different purposes in my life; some give me great business advice, others help me find and stay on my journey with God, others ace parenthood and inspire me to do the same, and so on. The friendship game is not all about what friends can be for us though! We all need to play our part to be a good friend - it’s true what they say, ‘...your vibe attracts your tribe’, so be the friend you want to be.
Don’t get me wrong, friendship roses definitely have thorns - it’s easy to let time pass by or get distracted with the responsibility life requires of us, so you have to make a conscious decision to work at it, continuously almost even when it feels like a chore- because same as relationships, sometimes it will be...
I’ll leave you with 5 qualities I think have helped me keep the right friend in my life:
The ‘non-yes’ friend who won’t just say yes to appease you, but will call you out on your b--llsh*t. The one who challenges you, you know, the one who won’t just ‘ride or die’ with you; but will dare to first ask you where you’re riding to and why you have to die. The one who’ll be ready to explore other alternatives before letting you make a fool of yourself.
The friend who speaks to your values. You can’t vibe with people who don’t follow the same life principles as you. You are who you spend your time with. What are you doing with peeps with whom you don’t flow?
The friend who wishes you well and is genuinely happy for you when you have great news, accomplishments or milestones to share. Beware of people whose energy takes a downward turn when you share your accomplishments with them.
The friend who is dependable and you can trust won’t be flaky when you really need them to come through for you. What a gem you have if you can find (and keep) someone like this.
The friend who can tell when you’re not ok and will take the time to reach out and really figure out what’s wrong with you and will help you get through whatever it is. The one who will fix your crown without telling the world it was crooked to begin with.
5 (of the many) qualities of being a good friend:
I work on myself (and this isn’t always easy, trust me) so that I can stay a good friend. Instead of waiting to hear from my friends - I call them and find out how they’re doing. I often try (and sometimes fail), not to whine. Not to complain. To Call. Text. Email. Whatever I need to do - I reach out! I invest and spend time with my friends even when I have nothing to gain from them. Time is priceless - I can either spend some of it wondering how they are or doing something about it by cultivating my friendships.
I remind my friends (and show it whenever I can) that I’ve always got their backs - and mean it. As a good friend, I feel it’s a minimum requirement for me to know what to do to cheer them up, lift their spirits or send an encouraging text to help get them out of a problem they’re struggling with.
I consciously stop and really listen to what’s happening in their lives. I refrain myself from always being the centre of attention with my issues, challenges, problems, hopes, dreams. I often ask myself: 'Do you know what’s going on in your friend’s life? Do you understand why they look so sad lately? Have you bothered to ask?' And then I endeavour to make the effort, every now and then, to listen more than I talk - this is why we have two ears and one mouth.
When I say I’m going to do something - I mean it. I don’t make promises I can’t keep. I’m only as good as my word! It’s important that I stick to it. I’d like to think I’m dependable and reliable - that includes being punctual (or saying I won’t be able to keep time if something comes up). Being unreliable makes people think twice before they can trust you with something
I understand and respect boundaries. Sometimes good friends aren’t pushy and don’t get upset because of the occasional “no.” Actually, good friends can pick up right where they left off no matter how long it’s been since they last saw each other.
The purest quality of the most significant friendships:
‘Find people who can handle your darkest truths; who don’t change the subject when you share your pain, or try to make you feel bad for feeling bad. Find people who understand we all struggle, some more than others and that there’s no weakness in admitting it. In fact, few things take as much strength. Find people who want to be real. However, that looks and feels; and who want you to be real too. Find people who get that life is hard, who also get that life is beautiful, and who aren’t afraid to honour both those realities. Find people who make you feel more at home in your mind, heart and body, and who take joy in your joy. Find people who love you, for real, and accept you, for real, just as you are.’
A recent study indicated that the average person will form about 400 friendships during a lifetime, but only 33 will last. Learn to be ok with being an acquired taste. You ain’t for everyone.
Love and Light,