Tag: friendshipping

Friendship at 10, 20, 30

I was going to wait and post about my party tomorrow but yesterday’s post was such a downer that I didn’t want to leave that as the heading on the blog for long.  Friendship has always been a highly important part of my life.  Next to faith there is nothing more valuable to me than a loyal friend.  I was reminiscing with my roommate about groups of friends we’ve had, parties thrown etc, and I had a minor epiphany about friendships.  Friendship is essential to at least my function but it manifests itself differently in different times of life. Hanging on to the old manifestation can lead you to miss out on the current phase.

Let me explain…

When you are a child and especially a teen your friendships are chosen by you but fellow-shipped by others.  For example, I may have chosen Meredith as my best friend in high school but it was our parents, teachers and other activities that facilitated that friendship and made it happen.  At the very least people were driving us places, teaching us lessons and coaching us in choir/sports.  We became friends through participating in these activities and even when we tested out our leadership skills it was under a controlled, monitored environment.

These were my 3 best friends from high school
These were my 3 best friends from high school

It is this structure in friendships that causes some teens to party and rebel- trying to make their own choices when really still relying on others to make those poor choices.  Fortunately I had good friends who were supportive of my beliefs and I never steered too off course (I was also incredibly strong willed).

Your teen years are also the time when your friends center your life, which is why we worry about teens having or cultivating good friends.  No other time in life will who your friends are (for most of us at least) be more influential.

Then your 20’s start and a new degree of independence is given to most people.  You are free to go your own way, make decisions and make friends dictated less by others and more by common interests and personalities.  Aside from classes and maybe an errant roommate nobody is really forced to be friends with someone in the 20’s the way they may be in your teens.  However, you still have a lot of the structure of your teens facilitating activities and the meeting of new people (even dating).

Whether it be through a church group or college setting most people I know met their college friends through some type of organization, fraternity or class.  The interesting thing is in college the friendships are often made in such activities but forged in something much more casual.   This is partly due to lack of time a college student has but also a lack of funds.  Most people I knew in those years didn’t have a ton of money to spend on friend experiences so you spent time together watching movies, TV, sports events and cooking/eating food together.

College friends (my cousin Julia, me, my sister Megan and Emily)
College friends (my cousin Julia, me, my sister Megan and Emily)

 

My roommate Heather and friend.
My roommate Heather and friend.
My friend Miriam and I are still friends from college
My friend Miriam and I are still friends from college
My friend Joni from college as she left for her mission.
My friend Joni from college as she left for her mission.

I have such warm memories of that time in my life.  It really helped me become the person I am and was a very happy, simple time.   Because things were so casual you do end up wasting a lot of time seeing bad movies, eating junk, and for lack of a better word hanging out but there’s a certain freedom in that.  How do you know what movies you like if you don’t see a couple of turkeys?  All part of the learning experience.

After my college experience I had my mission which was so separated from normal life I will skip over it for this entry.  Then you get into my later 20s (I got home from my mission when I was 24 1/2).   This was actually one of the most social times in my life but interestingly enough it mixed the casualness of my college life with a little bit more structure.  At this point my friends and roommates had jobs which gave us a little bit more money but less free time.  We would still see the occasional bad movie but most activities were researched and thought out.

There was also a lot of routine socialization that happened at that time.   For a long time I had a daily dinner group (which I still think was brilliant) where a bunch of us singles were assigned a day of the week to make dinner for the group, so you got a social experience and only had to cook once every 12 days.  So great.    I also had groups that met regularly to watch a lot of tv shows like American Idol and The Office.  For a while in my apartment in American Fork we had 3 or 4 nights a week that had some kind of TV viewing together.  I watched Lost every night for 2 years with friends and then I moved and never watched it again.  That certainly tells you the influence of friends!

This was actually a hard time in my life personally and it’s amazing I fit so much socializing in when I was working 60 hours, serving at the temple, had 2 other callings and going to grad school.  I wouldn’t have done much of it if it wasn’t presented at my door with little to no effort.  The house in American Fork was especially good for socializing because we were the only one’s with our own apartment in the ward.  Everyone else lived at home so our place became something of an escape for our friends.  It’s funny that time in my life is probably where I maintained the fewest of my friends.  People got married, moved, and the friendships are mostly through facebook or gone and that’s ok, just interesting.

During my later 20’s is also the only time in my life where I through big parties with lots of people.  Or I should say my roommate and I did.  We had great Halloween and New Years parties, planned outings and group dates together, concerts (went to more concerts then than ever again), and seemed to find excuses to wear costumes on a number of occasions.  Despite it being a challenging age, I have many warm memories.  I often drive by the house in American Fork and feel a wave of nostalgia for the good times had just watching TV together with my friends.

fair dance gifts new years girls party tracey dinnerThen my 30’s came and things started to change (really more at 28 but close enough).  Seemingly overnight the big group TV sessions and parties stopped and everything became more one-on-one, highly planned, intimate interactions with friends.  This may not seem like a big deal but I remember feeling so sad that I had no one to watch American Idol with any more or celebrate Halloween (our last ‘big’ party was 2009).

While still loving to entertain it takes a lot more effort now than it used to.  No just casual ‘let’s go to the apartment and watch The Office every week’ kind of thing.  It takes work but that work can be a joy.  It took me a long time to realize that I really enjoyed gathering my friends together and coming up with fun activities.  I did swimfests, book clubs, baby showers and dinner parties and loved every one of them.  Occasionally I could still pull off the big party like last year for my open house (or tomorrow to celebrate 40 book club books!) but it’s just different.

In 2009 I wrote a post on this very blog about a book club I threw where nobody came and how discouraged I was.  https://smilingldsgirl.com/2009/06/10/thoroughly-uncool/ I remember feeling so sad that nobody had come to my party:  “I am merely puzzled by my recent inability to attract new friends.  It isn’t just with Enrichment but the few times I have had parties the turnout is low.  I used to be able to always attract a crowd. Weird, hah?”

The problem I was truly dealing with was looking at a new era of friend-shipping through old eyes.  Like I said, sometimes I still feel nostalgic and a little sad for those times.  It can feel like I make so much effort and in a selfish mood it can seem underappreciated when it really isn’t.  People love it and it means a lot to them but it just takes a lot of work to make friendships in this era of my life function.

Truth is those friendships are better because I’ve had to work hard for them.  Unlike the fun time in my late 20s where most of the people have come in and out of my life I have a feeling the friends I have made in the last 5 years will always be a part of my life.  That’s what work tends to do.  Plus, in a way it is kind of a circle of friendship.  When I was a teen others allowed me to make friends, now I am facilitating that experience for others.  That is a great gift not a burden.

Anyway, I don’t know if this will mean much to any of you out there but even my friends online (twitter, facebook, this blog) take work but I’ve learned so much from that process.  I’ve learned to cook, decorate and entertain. Plus, I’ve learned to actually appreciate and discuss the arts, movies, theater, etc.  It’s not casual like those days in my 20s but it’s very rewarding and great.

In the end, enjoy the season you have now. Look fondly on the past, remember the smiles and moments and then try to learn and serve as much as you can in the present.

It’s a good life and I’m grateful for my friends!  To a fun day tomorrow!

 

Ways to Make People Like You

how-to-make-friends

My facebook friends know I am currently preparing to give a lesson on Sunday about friendship.  When I first received this impression I thought it would be easy.  It’s such a universal topic of interest and something I have always held as a priority that facilitating a discussion should be simple, right?  Wrong!

First of all, I think anyone who claims to be an expert in making and keeping friends probably doesn’t have very many of them.  However, I’ve felt lonely enough in my life to make the search for this skill a priority, and there are certain tendencies that have repeatedly helped me along the way.

Perhaps it is being bullied as a child but I have always needed and prized friendship above all.  Friendship and loyalty to those friends is probably the most important thing in my life. Not everyone seems to have this need and prefers a solitary life, and there is nothing wrong with that, but its not me. I am not a perfect person but I think you will rarely find a more loyal or interested friend.  I try very hard to make and keep my friends.

As I was preparing the lesson my first thought was

1. Is friendship a necessity or a luxury?  What I mean is friendship something we require for a happy existence or is it an added benefit when time allows like a vacation or a special dessert.    Everyone on facebook agreed, friendship is a necessity.

So, most of us need friends.  Most of us see them as an essential part of life.  My next question was

2. Why as adults do we struggle making and keeping friends if it is as essential part of life? 

I think there are a lot of answers to that question but the main one seems to be time.  Our resources, time being one of them, are limited and often other essentials (and non-essentials) take the place of the essential need for friendship.

Now I had learned that friendship is essential and time seems to be the main barrier in creating these essential experiences.  So the solution to having better, more meaningful friendship in our lives is either creating more time or using what time we have more effectively.   Both can be helpful.

So how do we do this? How do we both create more time and use time we have with friends more effectively?  To figure this out I’ve been reading lots of articles and getting the opinion of friends.  One book I’ve read again is the old classic How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.  It stands the test of time.  Really quite brilliant.  In his book he gives:

6 Ways to Make People Like You by Dale Carnegie

Principle 1- Become genuinely interested in other people. I find that focusing on what we have in common helps to be interested. On the other hand differences make life more interesting.  For instance, say a person is super into karate and you are not.  Well, now you have an opportunity to have a friend who is into karate. Your life has just become that much more interesting and well-rounded.

Principle 2- Smile Nobody wants to be friends with a grump. I would also add be real with people.  Privacy will only get privacy in return.  Friendship is a vulnerable experience.  Be happy but also be you. A smile goes along way to brighten anyone’s day.

Principle 3- Remember the person’s name I’d add remember details about their life.  It is such an attractive quality in a friend.  A friend of mine won my heart when on our second meeting he remembered about my swim meet I had been in the prior weekend and had briefly mentioned on our first meeting

Principle 4- Be a good listener.  Encourage others to talk about themselves.  The greatest human need is to be understood and be listened to.  I got good at this on my mission.  I had no interest in hoosier basketball or indy car racing but nothing makes a person happier than when they have a captive audience for their hobbies and interests.  I know that is true for me with open water or my other interests.  For most of us it makes us feel good to rattle on about our jobs, hobbies, friends etc.  We don’t need solutions just to be listened to.

Principle 5- Talk in terms of the Other Person’s Interest.  This goes back to principle 1 and it can be easier said than done.  Sometimes it can feel impossible to have anything in common with another person but usually if you dig hard enough you can find something.  For example, I have zero interest in video games but I love art so I can try to relate to those who have an interest in gaming in terms of art of the games.  Usually once you get beyond the cursory interests you find deeper things you have in common but it takes digging.

Principle 6- Make the Other Person Feel Important- and do it sincerely.  (Basically think more of the person than you do of yourself.  Be the kind of friend you would like to have and you may come close to getting such friends.  Regardless, you will be happy because you will make others happy).

A Few More From Me!

Principle 7- Friendship is not an Equitable Relationship.  It will always feel like you are making more of an effort than your proposed friend.  Whether this is true or not is beside the point.  Expecting things to be fair will not get you far.  For example, I should not invite said friend for dinner expecting to get a dinner from him or her in return.  It just doesn’t work that way.  I have to be the one to make the effort and be content with that.  It is not a competition or a popularity contest.

We can only make an effort and be happy with our choices.  Unless it is a toxic relationship, most of the time we get back plenty of what we put in; however, it just may not be in the exact way.  For instance, a dinner invitation may be returned by a phone call at a needed moment.  A relationship is about people not about fancy scrapbooks of perfectly planned out memories.

Principle 8- People will Almost Never be More Open with You than You are with Them.  If you want meaningful, open and honest relationships than you have to be a meaningful, open and honest person. If you want a casual relationship that is just for fun you will probably get a casual relationship that is just for fun.

Principle 9- Not all Friendships Could or Should be Saved.  There are absolutely toxic friendships.  When we are being manipulated, lied to, or abused in anyway this is not friendship. We can be twisted to thinking it is, or that by denying this help we are a terrible, heartless person but the reverse is usually true.  Don’t be an enabler.  Trust me.  These types of relationships are like strychnine for the soul.  Avoid at all cost.

Principle 10- People May Break Your Heart. Love Anyway.  I certainly have had my fair share of disappointment  going way back to the bullying as a child.  You never forget it.  But remember the advice of Mother Teresa:

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God;
It was never between you and them anyway.

I guess I would end that not everyone needs hordes of friends.  Some just need one and that can be your spouse.  There’s nothing wrong with that but no matter the number we can all be better friends to those we know and reach out to the lonely we don’t know.

How I Am Doing

People often start out a greeting with the innocuous question- “How are you doing?”.  To which the expected reply is ‘I’m fine’.   Since this is my blog and I can write what I wish I’m going to give the honest answer of How I am doing.

I am exhausted.  Feel like I got beat up in a fight.  I wish I could be one of those people that do long shifts, have crazy personal life and never get a break.  I can do it for about 2 months and then I crash.  I feel like I haven’t had a chance to rest since Christmas.  Granted I’ve had some great experiences like my party or the swim meet Saturday but I still feel super tired and worn out.

I am thrilled.  I love my house. I love my tenants.  I love decorating my house and learning what I like and don’t like.  Its been really fun and satisfying.

I am sore.  My pain in my rib cage has been bad lately.  It’s always there and to an extent I’ve grown accustomed to it but lately its been bad. I can’t wear a bra it hurts so bad.  Sigh…I also pulled a muscle in my hip on Monday so I’m walking like an old woman hunched over.

I am worried.  My Grandma W has been sent back to the ER with her heart problems. I know she’s an old woman but this has all come out of the blue for me.  Makes me feel bad for missing Christmas this year.  I hope she knows how much I love her.

I am overwhelmed.  New calling with lots of responsibilities has been overwhelming. Trying to learn everyone’s names and get things right is hard. Plus, just getting everything settled, unpacked and finished has been hard. Exciting but hard.

I am grateful.  I know how privileged I am on so many levels.  Grateful to have my house and its comforts but also grateful for my friends and the outpouring of love I’ve felt lately.  Really I couldn’t be more grateful.

I am loved.  I’ve often wondered what good deed I did in the pre-life to deserve such love. My party, the swim meet, my move- in all of it I was overwhelmed by how many people loved me. I hope I never take them for granted.  I love my friends!

I am inspired.  Inspired to lose the 15 lbs I gained during this moving process.  Inspired to get back in the water.  Inspired to get ready for SLC swim in June. Getting in better shape is the goal and weight loss will hopefully be a side benefit.

I am anxious.  Let’s be honest- I’m always a little bit anxious.  Its a lot of change in a short period of time and more to come in May with work but all changes for the best.

I am hopeful.  The flip side of anxious is hopeful.  I feel proud of all I have accomplished (even if it wasn’t in the most glamorous of fashion) and look forward to the future.  I’m hopeful for my job, house, tenants, friendships and maybe even dating every now and then. That’d be nice. 🙂

I am happy. I really am.  Tired but happy which perhaps is the best kind of happiness.

So today I have a few hours off to rejuvenate myself.  What to do with a few precious hours?  I’ll start by catching up on my book club book and taking some big deep breaths.  Then maybe I will actually cook myself a real meal.  How are you doing?

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