I don’t make friends easily. I don’t say that as a way to ask for pity or a way to seek sympathy, it’s simply how I’m hard wired. I’ve learned some hard lessons about trust over the years and well, people who have supposedly been my friends haven’t been. I’m cautious about who I let into my life and even more who I allow into the circle of trust.
I’m watching my oldest daughter struggle with friends at school. She sees some of the girls who are super popular and she sometimes feels left out. And I don’t know how to show her that hey, not having a million friends is okay. It’s actually good because ask any of those people who seem to have a lot of friends who would be there in the middle of the night for an emergency. I bet the answer is significantly smaller than their circle.
Oh how I remember the feeling of being on the outside. I’m still not a member of the cool kids club. I’ve got many associates, many people I’m friendly with but there are only a few people who would drive to Austin in the middle of the night to bring my an overnight bag when my kid is in the hospital. Or who would check on my mom during an emergency. Or who wash your laundry when you can’t. Or who would come to my hotel room in the middle of an epic meltdown. Or let me whine while I figure out my next step and offer advice and refuse to let me wallow in my own self pity.
Those are the people I count as friends. Not people who make me feel bad for my beliefs. Not people who try to tear me down. As my daughter grows, the one thing I hope to teach is that if someone doesn’t love you for who you are, they’re not worth your time or effort. If they can’t forgive you when you screw up, they’re not worth the emotional energy. If they don’t like your clothes or your hair, screw them. They’re not worth it.
The older I get, the more I am picky about who I allow into my emotional space. I know that sounds hokey or new agey but it’s really true. I’m not perfect and anyone who expects me to be isn’t a real friend. It’s sad when people leave your life either because you put them out or because they chose to leave but at the end of the day, I’m okay with that. I can’t be all things to all people. But I can be a good friend.
Real friends are those people who are there with you when things are good. They catch you when you stumble. They love you even when you say something thoughtless or hurtful and they love you enough to tell you when you’re an ass.