I asked you a series of questions, and your answers appeared in the last 7 posts. Your answers were vulnerable, honest, funny, serious, and clever. Your answers inspired questions, discussions, and honest conversations about friends, and friendships. Your answers inspired some actions, as friends connected, reached out, answered phone calls, and actions became a little more deliberate and focused.
I wondered about how to end this series, and a few of you suggested that I weigh in on those same 9 questions.
So, it is my turn.
Question 1: What are the best attributes of your good friends?
They are intentional. They reach out. They call me, text me, and email me. They initiate as well as respond. They seem to have this internal counter that knows when too many moments, hours, days, or weeks have passed and the alarm goes off and they remember to connect.
Question 2: Do you think friendship is hard? Why or why not?
Friendship seemed easier in elementary school when you walked with the same person every day to school, then goofed around every weekend together on little adventures in the woods and on the pond. Friendship seemed easier when you were on a ship and saw them everyday for 6 months, and ate, slept, and worked together. Friendship seemed easier in college when you were in that crappy little apartment waiting for your paychecks so you could actually buy meat at the store.
Friendship seemed to get harder in the next stage of life. New jobs, new cities, new neighborhoods, new kids, and new distances between all of them.
Friendship is getting easier and harder at the same time in this current stage. My expectations have grown as the years have passed. What satisfied this need to connect years ago, doesn’t seem like enough. I have more time for friends then a decade ago, but some of them don’t have the same time available to me. The number of friends “goal” has been replaced with a depth of friendship “goal” which I recently realize is a much harder prize to attain.
Question 3: What do you expect from a friend?
Balance and equity in the long-run. I may need something from them for a season, but I want to find a season to give back as well. They shouldn’t be the only one to initiate connection, I want to call them, text them, email them, or reach out as well. I need that same little internal counter in my head that reminds me that too much time, distance, or life has gone by and I need to take action.
This question caused me to wrestle the most. I fear my expectations may be causing interference with some friends because my expectations may be higher, and unspoken.
There is tension expectation. How do we learn to give freely, and not be taken advantage of? When do you give? When do you need? How do you measure balance and equity?
No great answers, yet the wrestling seems like a good thing for me to work on.
Question 4: How much time in a given week do you think about your friendships?
A LOT! Until I read your responses, I thought I was a bit of an outlier (well I may still be). There was comfort to know that I am not the only one who thinks about this pretty often.
My mind wanders towards friends and friendship throughout my entire day. The morning computer/writing time, the commute, at random times each day, lunchtime, afternoon coffee, closing time, the other commute, dinnertime, vegging out time, before I sleep (you get the idea).
Bottom line, if you are my friend, I think about you a lot.
Question 5: What are your best attributes as a friend?
I care about you. I think about you. I connect with you. I am here when you need something (yes that has included the occasional furniture moving). I invest in you. I want you to succeed. I have hope for you. I find time for you. I love you.
Question 6: If you could say one thing to your friends that would help explain what you need from them, what would you say?
Be real. Be present. Be available. Be my friend.
Question 7: How many close friends would you say you have?
Question 8: Anything else you would like to share?
Yes. This process, this journey has helped me understand friends and friendship in a new way. Your responses have helped shape me and I don’t want this journey to end.
Earlier this week I was teaching a class and we talked about leadership. One participant mentioned that leadership has an expiration date. In other words, if you are not exercising those skills, they expire, go bad, and become rotten.
I think this applies to friendships as well.
Question 9: In 10 words or less, what advice would you give the World about friendships?
Intention. Balance. Mindful. Time. Hope. Connect. Remember. Savor. Initiate. Love.