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Benefits of Friendships

My life, like so many others, is filled with wonderful things. I have a great husband, great family, a great job, sweet puppies, and great experiences and memories. But of all the things to feel blessed or lucky about in my life, the people in my life are definitely the thing I feel the most blessed to have. By that, I mean I have amazing friends.

Friends are the kind of thing you expect to have as you grow up. I remember going to school and my mom asking if I made any friends. I remember my mom saying, “look, there are your friends!” when we went to playgroup to meet up with other very small ones (I was like 3). I spent a significant amount of time talking on the phone or on AIM (oh god, showing my age) with my friends growing up, which evolved into texting or messaging with them as we got cell phones. Now, I talk to my friends almost daily: I’m always happy to see my friends at work when they stop by to chat, I Snap with a couple of friends on SnapChat daily, and I text with other friends several times a week, if not daily. Other friends I talk to less often: one of my closest friends is someone I talk to maybe 1-2x a month, but is still someone I feel very close to. That’s just how our friendship is.

Recently, I read an article in Psychology Today about Female Friendships as they key to happiness in older women…link here: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/mindful-anger/201802/are-female-friendships-the-key-happiness-in-older-women

The article talked about the importance of friendships, and beyond that, about the ability to nurture those friendships. It’s a topic that often, we lost sight of as we focus on other things: work, romantic relationships, families, etc., and so this article was a nice reminder about the sometimes overlooked relationships in our lives.

I’ve written before that my mom is probably the best example I have of how to build friendships and develop relationships. She’s an expert at making friends, and also wonderful at nurturing them, and being able to pick up with a friendship again after years apart. It’s one of the best life skills I’ve ever picked up from her, and something that has made a huge positive effect in my life.

BEST FRIENDS

I know some people believe that “best friend” is a person, but I’m of the Mindy Kaling belief that “best friend” is a tier of friendship, and not one individual person. I would say that I have many best friends. Some I met in high school, some I met earlier, some I met in high school but didn’t get close with until later, and some that I didn’t even know until I was older. Some are women I met here in Georgia. Some are family members, including my mom and husband Josh. But all of these people (mostly women) play a huge role in who I am today, even just with their support and love.

“When you look back on your life, it’s likely you see the years of your most active and abundant friendships as your happiest ones,” said Andrea Brandt, Ph.D, author of the article I linked above.

Truly, looking at my life, my friendships have been what makes my life filled with joy. When something great happens in my life, these best friends are the ones who are equally happy for me. When they go through exciting moments with work, family or personal growth, I can feel myself filled with joy for them, just as they are for me.

REAL FRIENDS

One thing that has changed for me as I’ve grown older is my lack of ability to deal with fake friends. In school (particularly middle school, I think), fake friends were things that I just needed to endure to keep my head above water. The stigma of having “the right friends” was important then, too, or at least more so than as I got older. Now, in my early 30’s, I have no time for people who I don’t consider true friends, and so the people in my circle are people that I trust with my life.

My mother-in-law has mentioned this to me many times, starting with my wedding. At my wedding, as I was saying my vows, one thing I so clearly remember is hearing my bridesmaids sniffle and quietly cry behind me. They honestly cried more than I did at the wedding, because they were SO happy for me and for Josh, and for our marriage. These were women who had seen me go through other bad relationships and find Josh, and were so happy for the two of us and our marriage.

Later that weekend, my mother-in-law looked at me and said, “your bridesmaids were crying. Like, they were really crying.” I smiled and said, “yeah, they were happy for us!” Since then, she’s mentioned my friendships a few other times, about how many friends I keep and how nice it is to have such good people in our lives.

It’s something I’ve been able to keep a focus on, though it has become harder as we get older. There are some friends I only talk to every month or so, or even less a year, even though I think of them often and miss them. It’s important that I work to nurture these relationships, especially for the joy and support that they give me. As the article said, loving friendships are worth taking seriously.

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