How do you measure friendship?
As children it was easy…how many valentines did you receive. Oh, wait, that really wasn’t true friendship, was it?
In high school , did you eye the popular kids and wonder why you were so out of step? Do you refuse to go to high school reunions because you had nothing in common with those people then and would not find anything worth talking about to them now?
Get over it. No one is the same as they were then. A high school reunion, particularly once you get to 25 years and more, can be very interesting. At my 40th reunion last year I asked people to tell me one thing that had happened that they never expected. The answers were revealing: Only one person talked about his job and it was more about the travel he was able to do than the work itself. A couple of people told me how a significant illness made them realize what was truly important. And many people told me about family relationships, good and bad, but mostly about how they never expected close connections to people to be so important.
Friendships are rare. You know I am not talking about the number of people you connect to on Facebook. I am also not talking about the number of people you actually say hello to when you see them. (If you don’t say hello to anyone, that may be a sign of the reason you might not have friends.)
I’m talking about the kind of friendship where you can call someone to help celebrate joys and to help hold your hand in times that are difficult. To come to a meal, whether it is steaks on the grill or a delivered pizza. To share photos of a trip. To complain about the kids or the spouse and know it will stay private. To drive you when you have a scary doctor’s appointment. To pick you up at the airport to save you the parking fees.
You have these friends because you are an equivalent friend to them. You accept people for who they are. You listen to their stories and understand, because you felt that way in the same situation. You connect.
If you don’t have this kind of connection with one or several people, let me make a suggestion. Change your routine. Instead of spending time at home alone, check out what groups meet in your area. Chances are there will be one or more that appeal to an interest you have. Volunteer to help somewhere. Groups like soup kitchens, art museums, libraries, elementary schools, community recreational sport leagues all need volunteers.
Once you get out of your cocoon, you will begin to connect with people. Having something in common is the way a friendship grows. Go for coffee. Explore the farmers’ market together. Ask the other person questions abotu their family or their interests to get them talking. Be a listener. Accept them for who they are.
Love them. Be a friend.