The topic of friendship is swirling around my home like a caramel sauce twirled into brownie batter to make something called Death By Chocolate. Watching my teenagers build friendships re-energizes me to take the best of their example and look anew at my own friendships. After talking with my kids, we agreed on three important factors that make friendships great.
A good sense of humor makes us laugh, encourages banter, and lightens the darkest times. My teenagers and their friends are hilarious together. As an adult, I may not appreciate practical jokes, making silly Vines, or watching Will Ferrell movies (except for ELF …and The Other Guys…OK, I’ll stop there), but I do love when friends share a joking spin on a tough situation, remember something funny from the past, or make parties enjoyable with their engagement. It is all too easy to become grim as an adult and for friends to collude in misery. Don’t do it! Friendships need to encourage happiness.
Generosity is next. Maybe it’s because teenagers have more free time, more varied interests, or more fun money, but I envy their group effort to engage wholeheartedly in life together. They put time into friendships when many adults have little left over after everyday obligations. Together, teens obsess over their passions and grow their talents together; think garage bands. And they spend money. They take each other out to the movies (like those Will Ferrell movies previously mentioned) and buy each other burgers and make each other gifts. When was the last time you took a friend out to lunch, or threw a party, or baked a cake for a friend? Do it! Friendships need to give.
Finally, there’s vulnerability. My teens would call it trust. I call it vulnerability because I’m older and life is more nuanced for me. Vulnerability is being able to trust someone enough to share your pain and fear truthfully. It’s the ability to hear your friend’s pain and be with them in it. I caution my children that this level of trust takes time to prove true and reliable. Take your time.
To decide if someone is your friend, ask yourself if they bring a lightness to the friendship? Do they share generously with you? Do they trust you, because you are trustworthy, to share their pain as well as help ease yours? Be a friend by bringing fun, laughs, and joy to your friendship. Give generously of your time, talents, and money. As time shows the truth of a relationship, gradually be vulnerable with the few who have earned your trust. Finding and being friends is worth it.
What are the most important factors in your friendships? Are there any areas you hope to improve? I would love to hear your stories and advice!
Your friend in the making, ~~~~~~~~ Angie Mc