By my own assessment, my friendship skills were atrocious for years.
As proof that God’s grace is a real thing, I have some great friends today. Some may use me as their guaranteed ticket into heaven because they stuck it out with me. But mostly, they get the benefit of lessons learned from those who taught me how to be a better friend.
Along with my growing pains, there were a few things my friends could count on from me. Being the life of the party, offering to drive, and being cheap. My “cheap” wasn’t just for cheap’s sake. I was cheap based on how I saw myself and I just never seemed to have much money, so I was a tightwad.
As far as behavior, my younger self lived out three aspects of my personality most often. There were others, but I was primary in three:
- Friendtrovert – I didn’t mind meeting your other friends, but our interaction had limits. Unless a boy at the party liked me, I was ALWAYS ready to go. And finally, we probably wouldn’t talk on the phone more than once a week, if that. #introvert
- Fraidycat Friend – I would talk a good game because I’m an actress. But really, I was afraid that they might want to follow through. I wouldn’t back down because I can fight. But deep inside, I wished you would be quiet. I was THAT friend.
- Elephriend – Like an elephant, I didn’t forget ANYTHING. If you said we don’t like them a few weeks ago, I held your grudge better than you. And you didn’t get to change your mind, especially if you shed tears. No take backs.
While I’ve matured in age and wisdom since the days when these traits were in heavy rotation, I still have some residue. I’m surely still a friendtrovert. And my phone time has dwindled even more.
These days I’m not scared like I was back in the day. I’m over 40. And although I’m still not the one who will “start” something, I’m probably not gonna shush you either. If you need clarity on a thing, then we need clarity on a thing.
Okay, so now I may forget some things. Like I said, I’m over 40. But I don’t forget much. Like, your tears. However, with age comes the wisdom to know that with any conflict, it’s likely more than one party is responsible. So, while I may allow you to change your mind, I may still look for signs. One wrong move and they get the side eye.
My point is to encourage you to give your twenty-something friends a break. There’s a LOT to learn about ourselves and life. Without the opportunity to make a few mistakes as we go, we’d all be a lonely group of folks. Today, I’m more direct than I’ve ever been. (If you struggle in this area, believe me, 40 is your friend.) More often than not, I choose passive or aggressive rather than both. And I’m working on the whole unsolicited advice thing. (I’ve just learned so much that I want to help!)
Starting over and over again with new friends doesn’t always offer the opportunity to learn do’s and don’ts of long-term friendships. Besides, there’s nothing like an old friend who doesn’t need the back story. Face it. Sometimes, you just need to start in the middle and don’t have time for questions.
I find it very refreshing to be connected to the people who were built to handle all of me. When you find yours, be good to them. And give them permission to be good to you.