Thursday, March 12, 2015

What Kind of Friend

I've realized over the years that there is no one kind of friend. In fact, I am still not sure I know what a friend really is because just when I call someone my friend based on some definition I've come up with, they go and violate that definition. Trouble is, I still want to call them a friend, so sometimes I change my definition.

I guess what I've come to understand is that each of my "friends" is a friend in a different way - and I like it that way.

The reality is that the definition of what a friend is really matters very little. After all, friendship is just some name we put on some temporary, minimum level of connection that happens in a relationship we have set for a specific person for a specific time period. I mean, isn't it?

And then there was Facebook...

Gosh, Facebook really messed with the word, "friend" - or was that us when we "accepted" people as our "friends" on facebook? Suddenly, this weird social medium presented us with a new way of thinking and questioning what we really don't feel comfortable questioning...what a "friend" actually is.

It's weird, cause I think over the years, I let my expectations of my definition of friendship actually somewhat define my actual friendships. Anyone else do that?

We upgrade or downgrade friendships until they are "best friends" or acquaintances.

Sometimes we even move people completely out of our friendships and life slowly or quickly, unrealized or painfully. It's the, they never call me, they didn't get me a gift for my birthday, they never initiate doing something together, they hung out with someone else, they never have time anymore, and on and on and on. And it can feel terrible. The separation from those we care about is so hard. It is a sense of loss. Especially if we shared special moments/experiences with them. They take a bit of that memory with them - the other half that they shared in, cause the memory couldn't have happened without them. And we miss it.

But life sometimes just works that way. We come in and out of each others' lives. We change or we stay the same and honestly you know we really all do some of both - staying the same and changing. And at times, the same and the changes separate us. I feel like I have lost a lot of friends over the years. But yet, I can't think of really any that I don't personally still wish were my friend. And I can't think of any that I don't still care about - even if from a distance or in a simple, quiet memory.

Most of the time, I think it's my fault. Do you feel the same? I am beginning to believe almost everyone feels that. I wonder if some of my "former friends" think that I am not their friend anymore  - as if I left them. I might have. I don't know. I don't think I try to do that. I value the connections too much. But the expectations. Man, those things are tricky. I'm sorry if I put too many expectations on my friends - and I'm sorry to myself for punishing myself by doing that. It's not like we had a stated contract that you must fulfill and if not, then we can't be "friends". It's just we expect certain behaviors to meet that minimum qualification of "friend". When that isn't met, we feel like it's not the same thing anymore - and suddenly or maybe slowly...we aren't friends anymore.

Man, it's complex, right? It's driven by our intense need to connect, to reunite, to unify. It's also driven by our intense need to protect and to feel safe.

So I was thinking...maybe my friends don't know how I feel about them, about my expectations, about my desires to connect and stay connected - and at what level. And maybe they don't know what kind of expectations they can have for me.

The thought coming to me, however, is that maybe the time has come to change my definition of friend forever. So I think I've maybe decided (like that certainty? haha) that a friend is only something I CAN BE, not something someone else can be to me. I don't know, maybe that is crazy talk!?  I guess I think that is what I can control, and I don't think I can disappointed by the results. But then, I don't know that I know how to be a "friend" to others very well. Wow, what a looping thought process...sorry.

Anyway, I'm probably not a great friend based on the expectations of others. But I know how I feel. So here is just 10 things to know about what kind of friend I am...

I am the type of friend that...

1) will buy and read your book if you write one (I'll read it even if I don't have to buy it).
2) will tell you honestly what I think of your book (sometimes even if you don't want to know - sorry)
3) will answer the phone at any hour of the night and never feel upset about it.
4) wants to be your hero and help you in your time of need.
5) wants to be your go-to-guy for knowledge, advice, hookups, etc. I want to be that guy you call when you need something and don't know where to go.
6) will get up at 5:40am every day so I can exercise with you because we both need it.
7) will talk your ear off
8) will talk about a million ideas and at some point try to convince you to do one of them (trust me, I can be convincing, so be careful)
9) Never shies about giving an opinion, but will research things deeply for you and give you an academic approach to things as well - I'm a pretty good devil's advocate.
10) Will brag about you, love you, and admire you more than I ever deserve back. I have a terrible habit of being very proud of my "friends" and like to brag about them.

I liked writing that. It's a good exercise in, well, I don't know. It just felt good.

Just know, my "friends", that I crave connection. You can call, email, or just think of me and I'll be thrilled. I love you all in ways I should probably tell you sometime (whoever is reading and those who I wish were reading - which is everyone...haha).

Maybe a friend is someone I want to be - and that means at least a part of all of you. Each of you has something about you that I like and want to posses as a part of myself, so making friends is about trying to improve myself by adding you as the pieces of my life that I can't be right now. And that is never the same. Because I lack a lot that I want to be, I need your connection, your influence, your friendship. I hope you feel the same about me, but even if you don't, I might still brag about you and call you my friend - cause in the awesomest, cheesiest way, you kind of complete me. Amazing.
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