Last week I was a very lucky human indeed. Two of my best friends from high school (one of whom was BFF Jess of previous post fame, the other we’ll call Shawn), Boyfriend, and I got together and went a’campin’.
It’s been at least five years since the three of us were all together and had that lovely group dynamic of old.
Friendships are complex, beautiful and sometimes hard things that require a lot of love and patience. So I bring you; 10 Things: Friendship Edition:
Don’t Cage People into Old Identities
I met Shawn almost 20 years ago, Jess at least 15 and Boyfriend I’ve known for 7; I can tell you none of us are the same as we were then.
Shawn no longer has 90s heartthrob hair, Jess no longer bites people, and I can say, with confidence, that I now own pants that are long enough.
We’ve all encountered successes and struggles that have shaped us; some together but mostly apart. So getting together now means readjusting to new personalities.
In my eyes, the worst part of a reunion can be friends refusing to let go of the old. Old stories are great, old memories are hilarious, but all in the context of who we are now.
It’s not fair to call a raisin a grape and it’s not fair to call an old friend a 15 year old terror.
Let Them Be Who They Are
People change. It’s natural, it’s inevitable, it’s fantastic.
Sometimes it means the end of a friendship, but I’ve found that if you let go of this small idea you have of someone and embrace that they are multi-faceted and changed, it often just means the growth of a friendship.
Friendship Get Deeper with Age
Jess, Shawn and I started our glorious friendship watching movies on Friday nights and hanging out at school. While I’ve had a lot of time with Jess, I’ll admit I haven’t had a lot of one-on-one time with Shawn.
This trip we spent a few hours just talking. Changed personalities and new experiences for both of us meant deeper conversation. This time around it wasn’t all fun things we’ve done recently, it was thoughts on love, addiction, fear of the future.
I can tell you we didn’t agree on everything, no one does, but I walked away from those chats feeling like I love this human being for his sense of humor and silliness and his anxieties, fears, and thoughts.
New Conflicts Arise
I’ve never had a friend I meshed with all the time on every level, there are always issues that can’t be breached and personality conflicts that can’t be fixed.
And guess what? Those change too.
Friends piss you off in whole new ways as time goes on; old issues seem stupid and new ones grow into their vacancy.
A great friendship is never going to exist in the troubles, but in the ability to see past all of it and love each other anyway. Roll your eyes and carry on.
It’s Not Always Perfect Balance
I have had times when I really needed Shawn or Jess or Boyfriend more than they needed me. And that works both ways.
Every interaction is not going to be perfect give and take and there is no tally sheet. Visit one might be about Jess, visit two might be about Jess, visit three might be about Jess, visit four…and sometimes it’ll be Shawn or me or Boyfriend. Sometimes long stretches of a friendship are just one person supporting another without total reciprocation.
It’s Worth Getting Out of the Typical
There are work friends, school friends, old friends, coffee date friends and I know I tend to keep people in those arenas.
It’s hard to integrate friends from different parts of your life and even harder to try something or go somewhere outside of the typical with that friend.
I went camping with Shawn, Jess and Boyfriend for the first time this week. I learned that fire making is not everyone’s specialty, that “hangry” is alive and real, and that we are, overall, not super coordinated.
Having to drive a long distance to the campground and live in the woods for a week was different for us. At times it was challenging, but overall it was insightful and beautiful seeing everyone outside of their box.
We’d all camped before but not like this, and seeing those new interactions was well worth it.
Relationship are Friendships Too
It’s important to have different kinds of friends that get different parts of you, whether that’s a couple people or a house party full. And significant others are included in that.
I talk to Boyfriend about everything and when I don’t he gets on me to tell him what I’m feeling. I’m not saying you have to share everything, but you should at least feel able to.
A happy relationship* means being able to show all your colors, even your darkest ones.
It Takes a Lot to Make a Stew
(If you haven’t seen it yet, watch Too Many Cooks)
But seriously, don’t stew.
If something is really eating at you, give it a little time and figure out why exactly it’s bothering you. When you’re calm, talk to the person about why it’s bothering you. If you’re still stewing, just try to let it go.
I’ve held many a grudge in my life and never found them of any use, especially against the people you love.
Time is an Invention
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: time passes, friendships change, but time doesn’t kill friendships.
It takes adjustment, it takes work but not seeing someone on a regular basis doesn’t mean your friendship means any less. Somehow, things always seem to fall into place.
Sometimes It Is The End
This part doesn’t apply to the trip, but it should be said that some friendships are toxic, destructive or just plain unfulfilling. I like to use the phone test:
If you consistently get off the phone/text/chat/skype with a friend and feel down, guilty, bad, maybe it’s not serving you.
Talk to the person, express your concern and ask yourself if you think it’s worth carrying on or if it would be better for both of you to just be “sometimes friends.”
Or never friends, that’s ok too.
Best of luck!
*After only a few months, I’m in no way calling myself an expert on relationships…
*Major photo credit to “Shawn”