I’m a person whose emotional well-being is inextricably linked to my environment and the people around me. I feed on the energy of those around me and cherish the relationships in my life. Maybe it’s because my family lives far away, but my friendships have become vital to my daily survival.
As I’ve entered various stages in my life, there have been good and bad shifts in the friendship dynamics, none of which have been without struggle. Definitions of “a friend” change as we grow and learn. Friends move. Or you move. Boyfriends and girlfriends enter the picture. Sometimes they exit the picture. Sometimes you think you should date your best guy friend. And sometimes that’s a terrible mistake. Babies are born. Jobs take over. Priorities change.
Like everything else in this world worth having, friendships require love, attention and sacrifice. Sometimes it’s the little things that you do for your friends, or your friends do for you, that show you how much they care. They stay up with you all night when you’re heartbroken, even though they have a four-page paper due the next day and they haven’t started. They clear their calendar for your birthday each year and let you act like a diva for a day. They let you come sleep in the guest room because your roommates are annoying you and you don’t have AC. They verbally slap you across the face when you are being completely unreasonable. They throw you a rockin’ bachelorette party and frost dozens of little duck cookies for your baby shower. And they’re the last one to leave the bar at your going away party and escort you safely home.
And sometimes it’s the absence of those actions that hurts the friendship. I know I’ve been that friend. I don’t call, write or e-mail my friends that live in other cities NEARLY as often as I should. I don’t VISIT the other cities enough. I’ve forgotten birthdays. I get mad or jealous and express it in the wrong ways. I let my work consume me and use it as a reason to be lazy or unavailable in my personal life.
But luckily for me, and for all of us, forgiveness and acceptance can save the day. We all make mistakes and deserve second chances. Sometimes we need a good reminder of what being a good friend is when we’re too focused on ourselves. And when a friend has truly hurt us and is no longer a healthy friendship, we must let go of our anger and forgive to move on, whether they’ve asked for it or not. We must be a good friend to ourselves in order to be good friends to others.
So as I move to a new city and prepare to leave behind good friends I see on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, I must remind myself to not be scared of the impending shift in friendship dynamics ahead. I must remind myself to be that good friend who makes those sacrifices, even from far away. And I will be brave in forging new friendships even if it seems scary and uncomfortable at first.
In the end, what it really comes down to is this: Friends inspire us. Friends bring out the best in us. Friends make celebrations worth having. Friends will accept you for who you truly are. And a good friend will always be there for the moments of joy and moments of sorrow — whether they need a reminder or not — and will forgive you when you need one, too.