One facet of life that’s taken me a long time to get to a healthy working definition of is friendship, and trust me – that definition has changed and grown a lot over time. That’s not to say that I haven’t had very strong, wonderful friendships over the years, but that just now, at the start of my 40s, am I really beginning to understand what kind of friend I am and what friendship looks like in *my* life.
I’ve written about friendship before and talked about how the self-doubt that creeps in is false and how it is OK for friendships to come and go. Those lessons remain the same, but what I’ve learned since is that friendship is one of those cycles that will continue to play out and evolve for the rest of my life. Because, obviously, so will I. It makes sense that some connections will end, others will strengthen, and some will begin (repeat, repeat, repeat) as our own needs and selves change over time. And there is nothing wrong with that. It doesn’t mean you can’t maintain lasting friendships or are a bad friend; it just means that as you navigate the different seasons of life, friendship will present itself with different ways and means, if you allow it.
One element of friendship that I have for sure changed my mind about is the notion that I need to have one core group to carry me through this world. I feel like I see that modeled in other people’s lives on social media but that might just be an Internet “Gotcha!” because it doesn’t reflect the life I’ve built for myself in recent years when it comes to friendship, a life that I find quite full and satisfying.
Instead of putting all my proverbial friendship eggs into one basket, I’ve spread those baddies out all over the place. But please note, I do not mean in a spread-too-thin kind of way because a lot of those friendships are rock solid, rooted in my heart center strong. But they don’t all overlap and they don’t all make sense on paper (more on that in a bit). I mean that I have diversified my friendships with various circles and groups, some being large and boisterous, and others being small and contemplative. Life breathes into these relationships via social gatherings, coffee dates, Marco Polos, text threads, quick chats with kids pulling at our arms, and playdates where, again, we try to mother while also tending to each other as women, too.
So I don’t have the IG-worthy Squad that I once thought I needed. But I wonder, needed for what? So others could be envious of my life and friends? I really don’t know where that thought came from originally, but it was a stuck one that took me some time to work through. What I have now is an understanding of myself and that my heart works really well with different little pockets of friendship. Those unique relationships accurately reflect all the different pieces of life that make me who I am. And it turns out, I’m really here for it with the people who return that same energy to me.
What also holds true is that my friends do not have to be exactly like me to be considered My People. I have been blessed with love, acceptance, and friendship from some women over the years that might not make sense to the outside world based on our backgrounds (or our voting records). But I believe that when we see people for who they are beyond the labels society gives, we can foster real, authentic connection and carry a lot of grace for one another. I can’t think of a better definition of friendship than someone who does exactly those things for their people, in whatever form they present themselves.