I have been thinking a lot lately about all the wonderful friendships I have accumulated over the course of my life. I know I’ve mentioned on here time and time again how busy I am, and though I’m exhausted because every weekend is a fun event, I’m extremely grateful. I have this schedule and these commitments because I have so many special girls in my life.
It got me to thinking… how do we pick our friends? And to that point, DO we pick? Or do some people just come to us as if there was some pre-meditated notion written in the stars? I personally think a little bit of both and since my friendships range of preschool-don’t-remember-not-knowing-you (Laurel) to adult-meet-at-work friends to literally every other era in between, I think it’s fairly accurate that some people cross your paths at different times given a shared experience but their presence long after the experience is gone, is what we pick.
Friendships cannot thrive without effort, care, and consideration. So again, to that, we do pick our “squad”. What is interesting to me is how there are plenty of people I have liked and enjoy their company but you know it’s kind of like dating, you just don’t jive in the long term. Maybe your goals, approach to relationships, morals, sense of humor, or ideas don’t align. Or maybe staying in touch was just too difficult.
People pick friends based off of different things but the funny thing is, I have friends that vary in beliefs, backgrounds, and can be VERY different than me but I still love and respect them all the same because honestly, how can you learn and grow from someone who is JUST like you in every way? It’s nice to have a varying opinion and someone to keep you in check (however I have come to the realization that to be a good friend, you need to be supportive-and NOT judgmental).
Another thing I have been thinking about is how some people are only meant to be in your life for a very specific time. People and circumstances change and that’s normal. However, the thing that is the most interesting to me about my own life is that not many close friendships I have developed over the course of my life have phased out. I talk to at least one person regularly from every school I went to, job I’ve had, or house I’ve lived in. I have had very few fall off the radar which I think is a testament to how well I stay in touch. And I’m proud of it!
From this, I decided I’m good at friendship but admittedly there are definitely people I know, have met, am acquainted with that I would not pick as close friends. (Realistically, of course! We have all been there!). It’s not to say they aren’t great, nice, wonderful people, they just might not be my people, I guess. So given this and all the “squad” hooplah we are always exposed to (I’m talking to you T. Swift), I started to wonder what my own requirement for a person that I want to invest time in would be.
I know this sounds judge-y, and I absolutely do not mean for it to but I am curious about what qualities I look for in a person to surround myself in and why some groups I wouldn’t feel comfortable in (but of course, would wish them well). Granted, I will say, I have been surprised on a few people that I didn’t think I would be friends with and wonderful relationships have sprouted from it. But I am okay in knowing that not everyone is destined to “hit it off”. I liked to be liked, of course-everyone does- but I am at peace if certain things are not in the cards with certain people. So what is it that makes us connect and stay connected?
And after much thought and reflection… these are my own personal ideas of a person that I would want in my life….. aka for the lack of a better word, my “squad requirements”:
I’ve said before in my “About Jenna” blurb on the blog- I don’t really like when people play Devil’s Advocate. Actually, I hate it. There is a way to be constructive and call someone on their crap without consistently challenging their ideas, feelings, and thoughts by always trying to play cheerleader for the other side. Consistent contradiction is rough on a friendship. I have friends know how to do this right and I LOVE them for it.
Leave parenting to parents and be an advocate for the person’s feelings without making them feel threatened or defensive. (I know different friendships have different dynamics but this is my conclusion nonetheless). It is not your role as a friend to dictate, belittle or boss. This trait in a friend is HUGE for me. Who wants to feel judged by someone who you are confiding in and who is supposed to love you? Like I said, there is a fine line in balancing being honest and being supportive and those who can walk that tightrope- well, they usually have my heart a bit more.
You don’t want to feel like someone is talking about you behind your back in a negative way. Certain things are human nature and for my younger readers, you might find it more common during those teen and college years. Regardless, I want to also know that my friends have my back, support my feelings, stand by my side, and would stand up for me if necessary. It took me a long time to learn that the intensity of loyalty in some may not quite be at the level of mine but that doesn’t mean certain people don’t care and they aren’t being the best friends they know how to be. I will stand up for myself and people I love in a heartbeat if I know in my gut that there is a solid reason to do so, so instinctively, I expect people to feel the same. However, your basic trustworthiness is really the quality that is of utmost importance.
Now I am not talking about aligning on things like politics, religion, or anything else- those differences actually add color to relationships and allow you to learn from others. I mean morals in the way we treat people and the things we expect from ourselves and others. I find like-minded women in their goals, morals, and attitudes towards people and the standard they hold themselves at, I bond with more. Being thoughtful of people around you, not being selfish in the moment all the time, and being responsible, make friendships easier. No one wants to play babysitter. Like a relationship, you want to be equals, it will always create a better rapport.
Something in Common
It could be a sport, it could be a hobby, it could be a shared experience or era in your life. Whatever it is, I think when there is some common ground, it holds you together. However, opposites definitely attract but I have realized that I have various types of friends and they bring out and enhance certain parts of me. There are some interests and topics that I can discuss with one that I love that maybe some other close friends would DGAF hard about. I think whenever you share something, it weaves that bond a bit tighter.
Biggest Requirement? Just Be Real…
This comes into play the older you get as everyone in their adolescent years and twenties are trying to discover themselves and making mistakes and consistently learning life basics… but drop the act. Those who can admit when they are wrong, say their piece with conviction, don’t want to consistently impress others, and are not trying to be the most popular all the time, are a refreshing brand of person. And no matter the layers or shades that this comes in or how hard or easy this concept is for some people, you want to know that those you are investing time in are being genuine and can lift you up but also feel comfortable in leaning on you when they need it. Friendships go both ways. This balance is necessary and any facade will just not work in the long term. The more real, the better the friendship.