*Originally posted August 16, 2013*
When you’re a child you make friends with the kids in school. You play with certain people on the playground and have play dates after school. You slowly start to grow up and the activities that you take part in with your friends start to change. You develop as an individual and you start to like different things than some of your friends. But, if you’re anything like my friends and me, you still hang out together because, well, you always have. You invite all of the same people to your birthday party because you have always invited those people and you don’t want to hurt feelings. Or maybe you don’t even notice how different your circle of friends have all become from one another and you don’t even question inviting the now insanely-annoying-to-you friend “X” to your party. Or the very-grown-up-for-her-age, know-it-all friend “Y”.
Then you become a teenager. You enter high school and you are immersed in a strange and exciting environment with all new people. You start to talk to people other than your safe circle of friends and new friendships develop. Slowly your new friendships, based on similar interests, mutual friends, shared classes, and gossip, turn into your new safe circle of friends. This circle becomes your safe “go-to” circle.
Next, you graduate from high school. People from all angles tell you that you’ll lose touch with your friends and you’ll make new friends. You don’t believe them. You slowly start to grow apart from some friends. Just like they said you would. Your safe friend circle probably gets smaller. You see the not-so-close friends less often. Maybe only at birthday parties and weddings. But how did you end up with the close circle that you still have? How did you lose touch with some and not with others? Was that a conscious decision? Maybe. And how did you start to make new friends once out of high school?
I personally find it quite difficult to make friends now that I’m out of high school. I have friends. I haven’t had to make new friends in years. Why should I make new friends? How does one even go about making new friends? I also find a lot of people annoying. Haha. So that doesn’t help.
So how do you go about making new friends? And I mean good friends. Not just “yeah, I work with you and I like being on the same shift as you”, but realfriends. I recently made a new friend 🙂 And I’m not entirely sure how it happened. We worked the same shift for a few weeks and then decided to hang out outside of work and BAM! A real friendship was born.
How do you know it’s a “real” friendship?
I’m not sure. We both seem interested in maintaining the friendship and have discussed long-term plans to remain in touch when our schedules change in the fall. That seems somewhat promising, I guess. And we talk about real stuff. Not just what we did yesterday or who we hate at work. Though, we do that, too.
Was it intentional?
The more I grow as an individual, the more I understand how important it is to be intentional with your actions. And I have come to realize how important it is to be intentional in who you surround yourself with. The people you surround yourself with help to shape who you are. They say a lot about your character and what you value. The difficult part about this is actually surrounding yourself with people that you want to surround yourself with and being intentional about it. What about those people that you’ve just been friends with forever and you don’t want to look like a total douche bag for cutting out of your life? What if you find that they are not conducive to a healthy and happy you and if you had not been friends with them for the last “x” amount of years you would not intentionally place them in your life? I’ve gone through cutting people out in the last five years. It’s hard. It’s drama-filled. It’s worth it.
Now, you don’t have to be a big jerk about cutting people out. Maybe you just don’t make as much of an effort to hang out with them one-on-one. Maybe you decide that their opinion on your life no longer matters to you. Maybe you find that they are constantly too busy to talk to you or don’t return phone calls/emails, (hey, maybe they’re cutting you out!) and you just give up. Whatever it is, it is important that you are intentional about what kind of energy and values you are surrounding yourself with. It’s also important that you know what and who you want to surround yourself with. I have realized lately that I enjoy humour, emotional support, activity and health, education, people with faith, dogs, the outdoors (who knew I’d like hiking?), good music, wine, people who are constantly seeking self-improvement and self-discovery, and a good challenge. I am constantly trying to surround myself with all of these things, and more things, too. I am always trying to evolve as a person. And I try to intentionally fill my world with little pieces of what makes me happy and what I find interesting and compelling.
On the opposite side of that coin, it’s important to be intentional in your actions. Don’t just do things and not think about them. We’re adults now. We have to be responsible for our actions and our words and we have to be intentional about what kind of energy we want to put out into the universe. Do you want to represent yourself as a grumpy, unhappy person when you go out into the world? Do you want to be the friend that’s always busy? Or do you want to be the person who always has a smile on their face? That always makes people feel good about themselves?
Long story short, think about what being intentional means to you. To me it means that you shouldn’t be friends with people just because it has always been that way. If they make you feel like shit, they’re not worth your time. Make friends with people that you find interesting, that lift you up, that are also intentional about what and who they occupy their time with. Try things that are outside of your comfort zone to realize what it is that you want to be intentionally putting in your life. You are no longer a kid stuck in class with the same people you’ve always been stuck in class with. You’re no longer the kid in school that is stereotyped into being the stoner, the band geek, the theater guy, the bookworm, or the slut. You are able to and capable of creating your own reality. So take advantage of it and be intentional about it.