When our friendships are authentic they add countless benefits to our lives. True friends encourage and support us. They challenge us to do and be our best. They motivate and cheer us on during good days and bad. They understand our frailties. They listen with open, non-judgmental hearts and add great joy to our lives. There is mutual trust between good friends.
“The most memorable people in life will be friends
who loved you when you weren’t very lovable.”
In .49 seconds Google revealed there are 287,000,000 results for the word “friendship” and in .51 seconds I learned there were 5,250,000 results for the term “finding your tribe.”
Despite those incredible numbers I’ve added several of my own posts about friendships and tribes. Why? Because as we get older friendships play a pivotal role in our lives. Something we once took for granted in childhood (wasn’t it easy to make friends in the classroom, on the playground or around the neighborhood?) takes on a whole new meaning in midlife.
“A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart
and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.”~Donna Roberts
This weekend I had the good fortune to get together with a group of women I’ve known for several years. Our common bond is that we’ve all been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. I feel at ease with these incredible ladies, and not only because we live with MS but also because we support and encourage one another unconditionally.
There’s no need for explanations, no repercussions for being forgetful, and no fear of seeming aloof because of overwhelming fatigue.
We know what the other person is going through, and although MS has not manifested itself identically in any of us, we still understand.
There’s something unique and special about that.
There’s a wonderful article in The Atlantic titled “How Friendships Change in Adulthood” by Julie Beck in which the author details how friendships are tenuous over the course of a lifetime. Partners, children and parents are all relationships that fare better than friendships because we must tend to them. Friends are what we choose for ourselves, and while the best ones provide us with happiness they are often neglected because of the busyness of life.
Beck said that, according to William Rawlins, the Stocker Professor of Interpersonal Communication at Ohio University, people of all ages are generally looking for a friend who is:
“Somebody to talk to, someone to depend on, and someone to enjoy. These expectations remain the same, but the circumstances under which they’re accomplished change.”
The article sums it up by saying, “Friendship is a relationship with no strings attached except the ones you choose to tie, one that’s just about being there, as best as you can.”
What we value most in friendship is different for everyone. As we age and begin to live with physical and emotional ailments our definition of friendship begins to change. That’s when we need to open the door to our hearts a little bit more. Not every scar is visible to the naked eye.
“To have a friend and be a friend is
what makes life worthwhile.” ~Unknown