In response to my last blog about friendship, I am super excited to welcome my very first guest writer and one of my besties! This girl meets all 7 steps to be an awesome friend, and then some!
Sónia Scott says…
I have been following this blog since its inception. It was first published on the anniversary of my 29th birthday, so I have a strong kindred connection with it. Michelle and I were college roommates and have known one another for over a decade. We not only lived together, but we worked together, shared a single laptop that led us both to Dean’s List GPAs and prestigious graduate schools and later rewarding careers, took turns cooking glamorous meals (at least by college student standards), wore obnoxious matching hats before strutting our way to the local bar to dance our way through Pour Some Sugar on Me, nearly burned down a 14 story building due to a series of unfortunate events involving tweezers and fried chicken, and recently admitted to one another that the best part of college was – our friendship.
Honestly, my hubris was well stroked while reading this article. It was great to read (in 7 easy steps) why exactly I was one of Michelle’s “incredible-out-of-this-world-girlfriends.” I felt validated about being a person of such caliber and felt confident that I really did meet this criteria. Perhaps, not all of the time. We all have sometimes struggle with finding balance form time to time. In our case, Michelle and I live 450 miles apart and have 4 children, 1 giant yellow lab, 2 goldfish, and 2 amazingly supportive husbands between us. We each enjoy reading, writing, quilting, cooking, baking, bad tv, meditation, long walks, traveling, and a slew of other hobbies between us while having careers we are genuinely passionate about.
However, the morning after this was published I asked Michelle, “Can I share a criticism?” After she obliged I continued, “There is one major point missing. YOU!”
What Michelle, very humbly, omitted was her own role in having tremendously rewarding friendships. There is a responsibility to actually BE a good friend before you can find one in your life. You must make an exerted effort to make time to have your behavior match the seven items she described. That old adage about leading by example is more than a simple cliché of yore. It really is an excellent way to step into your own life. To take control and to facilitate change.
In the world of Self Help, this idea has taken on many forms. Terminology like the secret, the law of attraction, mindfulness, etc., is no longer saved for a small corner of your local bookstore, but is part of our daily vernacular. It is everywhere. Yet, I am continually astounded by the fact that so few people actually practice these simple and overtly rewarding concepts.
We live in a frighteningly hectic world led by schedules, agendas, and tasks. If you are anything like my girlfriends and I, you have several running lists that you are checking and updating continually. Even when you unplug, lists are ongoing in our computer-like minds. By nature, we try to take control of a defiantly uncontrollable beast. There are many things that happen around us and to us that we have zero control over. We should all make peace with that fact. However, we have the ability to garner control beyond the almighty to do list. We can choose our behavior, and set positive examples that we want to see in our friendships, our families, our communities, even our world. I do not expect to be treated kindly or respectfully if I do not first set that example. Therefore, I will be equally cordial and kind towards both the President of my institution and the barista who continually misspells my name. Similarly, I don’t expect to have great friends if I am not a great friend.
I have had poor friendships and relationships in the past, but I take ownership of my role in them. And, ultimately, when they no longer worked for me, rather than submit to a litany of reasons why the other half was awful and misguided, I moved forward. I chose to act towards change. And, I encourage you to do the same.
If you find yourself surrounded by friendships that are less than rewarding, ask yourself if you are meeting the friendship criteria previously set forth. If you find you are lacking in one particular area, perhaps it’s time to up the ante. Send your friend a copy of the terrific recipe you just found. Plan an affordable trip where the goal is simply “catching up.” Visit your friend and her newborn and change ALL of the diapers, cook meals, and do laundry while she just sits there. However you choose to do it, be an amazing friend!
What the modest author of this blog has ingenuously left out is that she has amazing friends simply because she has been an amazing friend. She, in many ways, is someone I am continually fascinated by, who I admire, who challenges me, who supports me, who is reliable, who accepts me, who puts immense effort into growing our relationship, who I laugh with (and sometimes at), and who I emulate. Because of this friend, I am a better friend, daughter, partner, and mother. And I will be eternally indebted to her for my own personal growth.
This past weekend, I visited with some great friends at their lovely home about a 90 minute drive away. When I asked my 2 year old to bring something over to my friend’s husband, he tacked on “Uncle” to his name. When I asked my toddler later why he called him Uncle, his response was simple: Because we love him, mama. Yes we do. We love our friends. We just do.