Now I've finished college, I've grown apart from quite a few of the friends that I’ve had and it's been difficult finding new friends as I navigate this new chapter in my life. Because of this, it's been prompting me to think quite a lot about the people in my life lately and the friendships I've garnered over the years and how they've changed over time. I realized that friendships really are like romantic relationships. They too need to be nurtured and require the same level of effort from both parties to work.
Check In/Follow Up
All relationships require consistent support. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and invite a friend over who you haven’t heard from in a while. If your friend is going through a difficult time, check in on them and see how they are doing. Just letting a friend know that you’re open and receptive goes a long way to building trust.
As someone with the “gift of gab” I’m guilty of this one. Whenever a friend comes to me with an issue, I just want to solve it for them but I’ve learned that more often than not my friends just want to be heard. Having someone to empathize and listen can be all a person needs sometimes. Of course, this can also be helpful with coworkers, romantic partners, and just an overall good skill to practice.
Be a Positive Influence
This requires a bit of self awareness. As someone with a religious upbringing, I pride myself on being as open as I can be. Practicing non-judgement and empathy is a must as I see it. I know that I can tell my friends anything with out fear of judgement and I can truly say that I have their support in return. Knowing that creates a safe space to be myself and feel truly loved for who I am.
Set Proper Expectations
I've always been kind of a loner and never really focused on having a guy in my life like most of my counterparts. I couldn't understand why my effort always exceeded the effort I felt my friends were giving and it became a frustrating cycle. Just like Sam I was trying to get something out of those friendships that I should have been looking for in myself all along. But now I've reached a healthier point in my life, and it makes me appreciate the friends I do have all the more.
"… I've learned to relax the expectations I used to put on others to meet the needs I need to be meeting for myself, and it's allowed me to just relish my friendships and relationships for what they are. Do I still feel lost, and at times lonely? Of course.” —Sam Penner, The Peak of Tres Chic