How To Know Your Friendships Are True
Imagine slipping your feet into your best loved, “fits like a glove on your feet”, comfy shoes.
As your feet are enveloped, memories made in these ‘tag-along’ shoes wash over you - mighty adventures, every day comings-and-goings, special occasions; throwing them off to go barefoot - you name it.
They are your go-to shoes.
his may not be the most flattering description for deep friendships (depending on just what your version of best-loved shoes actually looks like), but I find it to be pretty accurate.
What is better than a go-to friend?
I got to thinking about all of this the other day after texting a dear friend of mine who had moved thousands of miles away a while back.
The text read, “Hey, hi! I am missing you today. In a good way.” They responded, “Hi. What do you mean in a good way? Is there a bad way?”
Wow! I did not expect that!
What did I mean? And is there a ‘bad’ way?
So, I thought about it. After a short reflection on my words and intent I responded with something like,
“Well, I do suppose that any time I think of you it is a good thing. And today I was thinking about our adventure we had, driving all over creation, looking for a farmstand selling white pumpkins on a late Sunday afternoon. It made me literally laugh right out loud, missing our adventures.
Now, opposed to that is me thinking about how we cannot do that stuff so much anymore because we are so far apart, which makes me sad for the times we are missing; which then leads me to realize that feeling sad is not really ‘bad’, because that just means you are someone who means a lot to me.
And if I did not necessarily like you then I would not feel sad or miss you, right? So really, any way that I think of you is all good.”
Aside from probably breaking all text-etiquette rules, I also confused my friend for a moment.
But it made total sense to me.
You see, this friend with who I used to spend so much time and share so many experiences, who has known me since ‘way back when’, is still near and dear to my heart.
We may not physically see one another for years, but that does not diminish the strength or depth of our connection.
It is always there, uniting us across miles and time, nourished by the magic of technology to communicate while we eagerly await our next reunion.
For her and me, time and distance melt away when we talk with one another, or better yet, when we get together again. It is as if some giant time warp diminishes the elapsed time into the blink of an eye. We pick up where we are, not necessarily needing to fill in the gaps or catch each other up. We are connected through a solid foundation of unconditional love and like for one another.
In the days since, that affirmation of friendship has been percolating in my mind, bubbling up every once in a while.
It causes me to reflect on the folks in my life.
I am quite sure that the older I grow, the more reflective and appreciative I am of the impact connections like these have.
How do connections like that happen?
If they were an everyday phenomenon they would not stand out or be so treasured.
I believe they manifest from trusting one another with your genuine self, your vulnerabilities, and your dreams.
There are many people we spend time with, but not many that we feel comfortable being our real self around. Who likes to hear us sing off-key or shares our intrigue with skunks?
But every now and then we come across someone who ‘gets’ us; who we are free to let our guard down around. We do not feel the need to moderate our actions, words or thoughts in order to be accepted. We can breathe.
As far as vulnerabilities go, there are those we are willing to expose parts of ourselves to, but perhaps not every part. We tend to shy away from exposing those parts we feel less confident about or proud of and then decide who gets to see how much of ourselves.
We navigate our days and situations and regulate how much we reveal about ourselves. How much will you share with your boss? Your hairdresser? Your brother? Who needs, or wants, to know all your thought processes as you ready yourself for, say, an interview?
The parts of ourselves we are willing to expose to our true friends, being more of our real selves, are often the parts we consider to be the ‘better side’ as well as ‘the real side’ of ourselves.
I have come to realize that when we find someone who we are comfortable sharing our vulnerabilities with, a whole new level of compassion, support, connection and understanding manifests.
And what about sharing our dreams?
As exciting and motivating as they can be, we sometimes hold back on sharing them with others: “What will they think of this dream?”, “What if I try for it and fail? Then what will they think of me?”. But chasing dreams by yourself can be a lonely affair. Having someone in your corner to encourage you and give you new perspectives, to let you know that you are still amazing no matter what happens - that can be a dream-come-true in and of itself.
When someone walks into your life and embraces you in all of your genuineness, vulnerability and creation, they are keepers!
They are the “safe space”, gently prodding, and become life-mirrors, helping us to become a better version of ourselves.
Just like those well-loved, old shoes, deep friends are comfortable and comforting; willing to join in on escapades, support you and keep you safe.
They may be relegated to other parts of the world every now and then, but they are never forgotten and cherished always.
If the sun is shining, my Crosstrek is calling me to fill up her tank, throw open her sunroof, and head for the back-roads. With wind in my hair, I smile at everyone I see. Grace smiles back at me (even through the trees).