To my chagrin, my birthday is just around the corner. I’ll admit I am not one of those huge birthday fans when it comes to celebrating my own. Everyone else’s? Yes please. But there’s simply something awkward about being the center of attention for an entire night. I always end up running around trying to make sure everyone’s having a good time and that my varied groups of friends are all getting along and nobody’s feeling left out. It ends up being a chore rather than a relaxing celebration. So I had it in mind that I would keep any celebration this year extremely low key… So low key, perhaps I’d make the celebration non-existent. Until my best friend Michelle twisted my arm to have at least a small party to celebrate.
“Just invite your BEST, best friends,” she said. “Keeping it really small will make it a fun night so you won’t feel stressed. You can just focus on those who really matter.”
So I’ve been thinking a lot about friendship lately. Who knew this year would be a birthday full of soul-searching? What do I consider the top qualities that dictate who my true friends are? My BEST, best friends, as Michelle puts it. The ones who never let me down and always make me feel loved, or at least try to. Not the periphery characters who call themselves friends, but only touch base on Facebook or are constantly checking their Instagram likes, looking distracted in the middle of a conversation.
I’m keeping this list simple, but I think I’ve narrowed the necessities down to the Top 3 qualities of a true friend. Let me know what I’ve missed in the comments section if you have a Top List of your own.
1. Friendly Support
There’s something called “friendly competition.” I don’t think there’s a place for it at all amongst great friends. We should treat each other like sisters and not like foes, no matter how “friendly” we label our conduct. Does your friend support you in the things she says? Does she make supportive comments that bolster your self-esteem, rather than tear it down? It seems obvious that we should and would never have friends in our lives who make us question our worth or cause us to doubt our abilities, but it is more common than one might think to have at least one of these Debbie Downers flying under the radar in our circle of friends. A true friend communicates with you in an encouraging and compassionate way–not with back-handed statements or pessimistic, not-so-helpful opinions guised as genuine advice.
2. Loving Ears
How simple is the mere act of listening to a friend? So simple and yet it does wonders for maintaining your connection and for the evolution of your friendship. It’s rarer than it seems to find a friend who truly listens to you and makes an effort to really hear what you’re saying, instead of simply waiting for the moment they can get the conversation back onto themselves. A true friend seeks understanding instead of leaping to assumptions about what they think you’re saying. A good friend also keeps it in mind to open up the conversation so you’re each talking about the same amount of time, instead of one person always taking center stage.
3. Making An Effort
Does your friend remember what you’ve said to her, especially if it’s important, and keep you in mind throughout the week? It gets difficult as we get older to maintain best friendships because you’re no longer seeing friends everyday at school, at clubs or at practices. Instead, you have to mark it on your calendar and make an effort to cultivate friendships so they don’t drift into the ether. A good friend is reminded of you randomly and doesn’t let too much time slip by before checking in or asking to hang out or catch up. They fit each other into their busy schedules, no matter what it takes. If it can only be for a quick cup of coffee or a Skype date, then so be it, but a good friend will make it happen. And on occasion true friends will put aside a lot more time for you so new great memories can be created with each other.
Thinking about all this, I now have my list of BEST, best friends. It’s a short list, but the few are worth many and are all people I love and can count on for all times. Who would be on your list and how would you decide what makes a true friend?
Thanks for reading, everyone. 🙂 Lisi will be back next week with another ah-mazing Blah-g post.