People often comment how lucky we are to have such a good group of friends. And yes, we are all grateful for what we have. I know that. None of us take it for granted (although sometimes I think we don’t realise how special and unusual what we have is – when you’re init, you maybe don’t see it…). But we all know one thing: it’s not luck. It’s taken a lot to get us to where we are today.
A lot of years for a start. Some of us have been working on this for approaching twenty years. We met together every week when our kids were toddlers. We’ve dealt with our kids bickering. We’ve worked through our petty jealousies about our kids’ achievements. We’ve seen our kids grow from toddlers to teenagers. None of that’s been easy at times.
We’ve all been willing to have a go at new things. We’ve had our adventures. It’s great how not everyone does everything. We feel able to say ‘no, I don’t want to do that.’ So some run. Some dance. Some sing. Some cycle. Some do yoga. Some eat cake. Some go to the gym. Some shop. Some go to church. Each to their own. Give it a try and see if it’s for you. If not, no worries.
We’ve stuck with it. That’s important too. Different women have come and gone in that time. Some have stuck. Some have drifted away. Friendship has been a priority in our lives. We’ve put time and effort into it. There may have been seasons where individuals have withdrawn a little when we’re dealing with big stuff to do with our work or family or health, but we’ve come back. Friendship matters.
I was reflecting this morning on how friendship is built on a series of steps. Tiny steps sometimes. Everything we do and say matters. It has an effect. When we do or say something a bit selfish of unkind, we move a step away from that friend. When we do or say something thoughtful or kind, we move a step closer to that friend. Of course, over time, these little steps forwards and backwards generally balance out and we maintain a healthy friendship. If there are too many steps away, then we start to lose touch, drift away – that friend may not want to spend time with us so much if we are putting them down constantly (even if we call it teasing). And a succession of steps towards will bring us closer to a particular friend. Something to ponder on maybe…
So what three things would I say are the secrets of a friendship group like ours?
- A thick skin
There’s a lot of teasing goes on. It would be easy to take offence. Learning to brush off the small stuff is really important. Everyone is so comfortable with each other that everything is out there. We lay ourselves open to be teased. There’s no place for being oversensitive and taking everything too seriously.
We talk about A LOT. We expect what’s said when we’re together to stay between us. We are very relaxed together. We trust each other to allow us to be ourselves and not judge us. If we were on edge worrying what everyone was thinking of us, our times together would not be as freeing or as much fun. We want to have a safe space to be ourselves and for that to be OK.
We are all different. Very, very different. We each have a different role to play in the group. There is never any pressure to conform. We have very different opinions and beliefs. We allow that. We don’t feel the need to make everyone think or behave like us. Everyone is allowed to be themselves. No one dominates. We make space for each person to express themselves. So yes, sometimes people can get on our nerves. That’s life. That’s the nature of being in a group. We accept each other as they are. That’s how it works.
In our group (which is constantly changing), everybody takes a thousand tiny steps – each comment we make, each thoughtful gesture we make, each time we put ourselves out for each other. That’s what friendship is all about. We each get out what we put in. A cliche I know, but it really is that simple.
So yes, I am lucky, but no way was it luck that we got to where we are today.