Friendship by Design

When I was younger, my mother told me, “ Darling, throughout your life, your circle of friends will change based on where you are at, but at the end of the day, you will hold your true friends in one hand”. This is a peril of wisdom I have shared with my daughter on more than one occasion. Seldom though, have I stopped to ponder the meaning of these words myself, until tonight.

Today I left work early to catch up with an old colleague. We had become good friends over the six months that we worked together and quickly became like two old slippers in a box. Our friendship is easy – no judgement, only respect and admiration but based on absolute honesty. Few could kick my butt and live to tell the tale, yet she is one of them. I realised at the point that I saw her, how much I had missed her. We hadn’t seen each other for a few months, during which time her darling mum had passed and from outside of the restaurant I could feel her pain. Her light, her fabulous realness, was dimmed by grief…and that’s all I’m going to share about that. The rest of that story is my time with my dear friend.

I spent my thirty-minute drive home thinking about the fabulous women I have in my life and I wondered, “Do the best friendships grow from ‘the shit’?” A bit like a lotus lily does? I have very few close girlfriends, I been let down and disappointed by many in my life. It’s not their fault. It’s mine really! I didn’t vet them appropriately. Maybe it was my immaturity or desperation for friendship but I tended to welcome people into my life too eagerly and then afforded them a friendship that they didn’t deserve. I also tended to keep them there well past their ‘used by date’ (for the want of a better phrase) thinking that all of my friends should fit into the lifetime category rather than accepting that some people really are just there for a reason or a season, very few actually reach the elite club of ‘lifetime status’…and that’s how we should think of it. Being a friend is a privilege not a right you have to earn it.

This experience got me to thinking, should we apply the same rigorous process to recruiting friends as we do to recruiting personnel? Just because someone joins your circle of friends doesn’t give them the key to entitlement. The key to know your life, your past, your vulnerability and more importantly, play a part in your future. What I’ve learned is this; I am a conditional human being. There you have it, I’m out and proud! I love, I laugh, I cry and I care. I’m a good person and I deserve to have friends in my life that value me and that want to return what I give. They need to want to be MY friend. If you can’t give me that in return….”bye bye… see ya…NEXT!!!”

Moving to Canberra was tough, finding friends was like trying to find a needle in a hay stack, but I’ve worked hard at my relationships, I’ve screened and I’ve recruited and five years later, I have friendship jewel box filled with the rarest of gems. Some shiny and filled with hope and joy, some a little tarnished with just enough cynicism to keep me fascinated, and some with facets of honesty that keep me real, all of which I can’t live  without my daily fix.

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