Have you heard the saying that friends are the family we choose? I absolutely believe this and think that our friend groups say a lot about who we are at different stages in our lives and where we are likely to go.
I have been blessed to have friends that support me, that have become a second family to me, that I have shared holidays with, talked about tough issues with, cried with, taken road trips with, studied with, and much more.
I used to underestimate the value of community, of the people that we surround ourselves with. As someone introverted and independent I thought I could plop myself anywhere on planet earth and I would thrive there. I was wrong. Loneliness is real. People in your life matter. And I find that the people you choose to spend time with say a lot about you.
Now that being said if you gathered all of my friends together in one group it would be one interesting bunch. Between all the academics and doctors from my studying days, to the now many groups of people I have met traveling that have varied interests, to the friends I have online but have never met in person, it would be one heck of a party. Yet, they all have one thing in common, they are good genuine people. I have no time for those looking to take advantage of others, or narcissists only looking out for themselves.
I am learning to embrace friendships and relationships in all their forms, however short-lived they may be, or travel back to places because I enjoy the people and community there. People “make” the places for me in many cases and draw me back. I used to cry every time I left somewhere, not because I was attached to the city, but because I feared the loss of the relationships attached to that place.
Now I just express gratitude for the time I had there, with the people there, and know that if it is meant to be we will cross paths again. I think it is perhaps easier now as well because I know the world is so connected, but traveling still makes maintaining relationships hard. It is a test in many ways. If I can pick back up where I Ieft off with old friends, as if no time has passed, then for me that is a sign of true friendship.
I find this gets harder as we age because everyone is at different stages in their lives. Some are married, some have kids, some have several. But those that I am true friends with, it doesn’t really matter what we talk about, the awkward small talk about “life” doesn’t matter, because deep down I know there is a sense of mutual respect and love for one another. There is a shared history, shared bonds, and something that goes beyond the current circumstances that keeps us connected. It may take a little work to dig beneath the surface, but it’s there.
(For those who don’t know… I am doing “30 days to 30” and sharing life lessons and stories in order to celebrate my birthday—hoping to break stigmas and stereotypes about what 30 means and looks like)