All of us have had the experience of having a friend, no matter if we are an introvert or an extrovert.
We learn about friendships at a very young age when they are more about having someone else to do the same things with during playdates. As children, we mostly experience a friendship with someone who is close to our age and interested in the same games as us.
The benefits of having friendships as children include developing the skills and competencies to encounter a stranger and grow a friendship together.
We learn as children to share, to take turns, and have fun. While these things are focused on games in our childhood, they can serve us quite well as adults.
When we learn to share, we develop the capacity to be giving and generous with other people. We limit our selfishness and find ways to be caring with others.
Sharing includes, and is not limited to these three things, our time, our advice, or our money. We share from a place abundance and know that there is power for both the giver and receiver.
When we figure out how to take turns, we realize it is not always only about us. There are other people who have the same right to roll the dice or speak up.
Taking turns gives us the opportunity to balance being active with being still. This can be a powerful thing for many people who think they have to be busy and in control.
When we have fun with our friends as children, we learn that there is a trade-off for hard work. Many of us were taught as kids to do our homework then we could go out and play with our friends. That became a work ethic.
Some of the ways to have fun with our friends as kids might include swimming in a pool or at a beach, going to an amusement park or carnival, or having a sleepover and staying up past our bedtime.
The foundations that we build for our friendships in our childhood remain with us as adults. What I think changes in our adult friendships more often than not, is they are now based more on finding people who think like we do rather than us doing the same things.
We seek places where we will find people to be friends in places where the community is defined by a religious belief, a political belief, or a philosophical belief.
Many adults find the people who think like them and make friendships with them that evolve into including doing the same things.
Even if you believe that there are adult friendships that are developed by doing the same things, my observations will remain the same.
As adults, we seek communities to join where the people think like us or do the things we like to do. With this in mind, we have very little diversity of thought or actions in these friendships. In essence, we have made up our minds about who will be friends with and rarely will we open our minds to someone who thinks or acts differently than ourselves.
The circumstances of our lives have and always will impact our friendships. I learned this lesson in 1970 at the age of 10 after my parents were divorced. The one circumstance changed how I could be friends with in the neighborhood and at school.
The length of our friendships, at some point, becomes less important than the impact of it. We might hope as kids to be friends forever or we might find the perfect best friend as an adult and think it will last a lifetime.
We experience the starts and ends of friendships in very organic ways. We meet by chance, or so we think, and decide together to make a friendship. More often than not one or other friends ends the friendship with or without any kind of communication.
We learn a lot about ourselves and other people when we start a new friendship and when we end one. By focusing on what we learn, we give meaning to our friendships.
Now more than ever I am massively grateful for the diversity of my friendships; I am friends with people who think differently from me and people who do things I would never do in my lifetime. These differences might be deal breakers for some people; however, for me, they only make my life more enriched.
I am thrilled for the people whom I meet who want to start a friendship. I look forward to the adventures we will share and the memories that we will create.
I am grateful to the friends who continue to be in friendship with me; those who think the same or differently or those who want to do the same things or not. I am intentionally in friendships that make a difference in all of our lives.
I am sad when I think of the people with whom my friendships have ended already. I often reflect on my lessons learned and personal and professional growth as a result of them. I know that they were meaningful.
Growing up means realizing a lot of your friends aren’t really your friends.