I received a message this week that caught me off guard, both in its kindness and in its wondering. I had someone write and ask me how I came to find my friend groups because she too wants to build what she sees me having.
Firstly, the kindness: it was very sweet of this woman to say, in essence, that she sees beauty in my friendships. I see that as a compliment because, secondly, the off guardness: I tend to tell myself a lot of stories when it comes to friendship, and believe me, some of them aren’t very, well, kind.
For much of my grown life, I’ve told myself that I am not good at keeping friends. This, of course, isn’t entirely true. Like any person who grows, moves, changes careers, gets a new hobby, etc., my friend groups have shifted over time. But I’ll be real honest and tell you that there is a little part of me that often wonders, even to this day, “Is it me; am I really not capable of keeping close friends? Are my friends going to leave me if I make a mistake?”
I was honest in my response to her message and said, in essence, both of these things: “thank you” and “it hasn’t always been this way.”
Firstly: the gratitude. She offered me a real gift in calling out the strength she sees in my friendships because it helps quiet that not-so-nice little voice that doubts and questions whether I am a good or worthy friend. While I’m working not to live by what other people think of or say about me, I’m also not above being grateful for a little verbal validation. Just think of what it would do if we spent more time telling others what see about them that is working, is beautiful, is good, especially when they aren’t expecting to hear it from us. Wouldn’t that be such a simple and wonderful way to spread more kindness?
Secondly: the truth that it has taken time and effort to get here. I had to put myself out on a limb more than once in the last several years to test the friend-filled waters. This meant initiating conversations, small groups, coffee dates, and so on until I found the right combination of trusted, safe places (by which I mean people) that I could call my dearest friends. It’s okay for friendships to come and go, just like its okay to set boundaries for yourself and also put yourself out there to make a new connection. Some will spark. Some will blaze and burn for a while. And others will stand by your side even when the fire gets doused with unforeseen pouring rain.
You are worth the trying. You too can put yourself out there. The worst that might happen is that someone says “no thanks” and if that’s the case, then they weren’t meant to be your people.
It can be so hard not to feel like a loner and weirdo, especially in these COVID times, but I am convinced that if we put ourselves out there with authentic asks and cultivate the circles in which we wish to spin, we can all find our place. We all have one. We all deserve one.
Like the rest of adulting, adult friendship forming is not easy. Sometimes it will suck. Sometimes it will hurt. Sometimes you will stick your foot in your mouth so hard you chip a tooth. Sometimes your friend will do the same. But we need to keep seeking and we need to keep connecting because our people are what make this insane roller coaster of life seem less horror show and more adventurous comedy (even when it is a shit show).
But let’s also be honest with each other and admit how hard these relationships can be to find, develop, and maintain, lest that others think we have something they can’t.
Like I said, your circle is out there, and trust me, they need you as much as you need them.
P.S.: Nothing about the last six months of life has felt normal, which also means that the only friend photos I have to share with you and this post are from last year (after a literal downpour), but I also wouldn’t have made it through the last six months without my circles, so there’s that. They’ve kept me going one text, meme, GIF and Marco Polo at a time. I’m grateful for their friendship and for all the connections that are out there, waiting to be, for each of us and each of you.