Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I’ve been thinking a lot about friendships lately….relationships and connections…community and belonging… all these very natural and inevitable desires we have simply because we’re human. We’re created this way. To want interactions with others.

I haven’t gained or lost a friend lately…I don’t think. Maybe friendships have been on my mind because I marvel at how my children can make friends at the park, in Payless, or the doctor’s office in 1.4 seconds. How my son has a “best friend” who isn’t related to him or imaginary. Maybe it’s because now that I’m thirty-something, I see that my friend circle is more like a semi-circle. I’m ok with that. But with so many things vying for our time and energy, friendships, just like any other relationship require work and effort to maintain.
Peer groups aren’t just for children and adolescents, they are important for adults as well. They give us an outlet by which we gain perspective, insight, and knowledge as we venture through life at about the same point on our journey {give or take…of course this varies}. Peers give us that connection and community we crave and can offer advice and affirmation as we do the best we
can to live a happy, fulfilling life.

Because our peer relationships often get put on the back burner, I thought it’d be fun to purposefully peep out our peers with some simple tips to get us feeling good and friendly! You down, Homie?

 1.       Communicate. I don’t think you have to talk on the phone or face to face all the time to have effective communication with someone. Whatever communication method you choose, it does have to be personal. You may remember from this post that I cautioned against using social media as the sole method of connecting with someone.  I still believe that to be true, however, if email and text messages work best for you and your friend, then that’s fine. Maybe you even decide to {gasp} write a real hand-written letter. Again, the method isn’t as important as that whatever method you use, it works for both parties. I have close “mommy” friends that I only email and then we get together regularly providing that reinforcement and physical closeness. I have a dear friend that I write letters to and still other friends that I talk to on the phone at least once a week. {By the way, that is the extent of my friend semi-circle, lol!}
Before I move on, let me speak to this point…something I think we often forget. No matter how long you have known someone, or been friends with someone, no one likes to feel like they’re at the bottom of your priority list. All relationships require work and they won’t just maintain themselves. This is especially true when you live far away from your friends. Make an effort to return that phone call or email in a timely manner and respect that person’s efforts to reach out to you. We are all busy, but at the same time, we all make time for what’s important to us!

2.    Create a “thing” for y’all to do. Let me explain. By “thing” I mean something that you and your friend do that’s unique to your friendship. Maybe your friend “thing” is getting together every year to celebrate a child’s birthday, your birthday, or some other significant date. Maybe your thing is getting together for homecoming or taking a day trip to the beach or zoo each year. If you don’t have a "thing", how fun would it be to create one!? Consider both of your current seasons of life and your likes and dislikes, and come up with a few “things” to look forward to doing together!

3.    Be casual. If you live a good distance away from your friends, then it’s very likely that you only see each other for big events, like those I just described. But if you’re lucky, you have some friends that are at least within driving distance and this allows a bit more flexibility with  being able to connect real time.  So, maybe you have a free weekend and you want to invite your friend over for dinner, or meet somewhere for lunch, or just hang out with no real agenda. By all means, do these things when you can! These can sometimes make lasting memories just as much as the big events! 

What are your thoughts on adults making time for peer interactions? How do you stay connected? Do you find it challenging?

And just for your viewing pleasure, I’ve included some pics from some of my “peer groups” back in the day!

1 comment:

  1. Friendships are important, especially for grown ups! We often need someone to confirm that we are normal or what we are feeling is ok. We need friends to listen to us and help us through life's most challenging times. The problem is, being a "Grown Up" makes it so much harder to be a good friend! I value my friendships but I KNOW I can be a better friend. Maybe just communicating that would be better than nothing at all...this was good to read and food for thought!