Some of us remember our best buds from elementary school. Others still hang out with them, even in adulthood. Many of us have made friends later in life, but isn’t it awesome to be able to recognize who your genuine friends are? When Christopher comes home (far right – front row), he so often mentions his partner in crime, Hilton (on his left). He tells tall tales of all of their adventures, slightly admits to their guilty pleasures, and revels in their 7 yr. old discoveries. Above all else, he denotes their friendship, an inseparable bond that exists because of how much he values their relationship. When their Chinese teacher sent this pic to my phone during their field trip today, it resonated with me because I knew from his expression how much he was treasuring this memory and how much he appreciated his friend.
And so I thought about my own. I made an interesting connection. Every year, I teach my students about “multiple meaning words.” Like bat (the animal); bat (to swing); bat (the wooden equipment), and bat (to blink an eye). In that vein, “friend” has evolved into an interesting multiple meaning word, too. Friend (people I know on FaceBook/LinkedIn); friend (an informal term for a colleague); friend (someone you know through a connection with someone else); friend (to get to know someone); and friend – the ones who really feel more like family. How many friends do you have that fit the latter? It seems we have the least of that last group.
Like Christopher, I get really excited about my genuine friends! I talk about them because they crack me up. They know me in ways that associates do not. When I’m trying to wear the cape and save the day, they remind me that even superheroes need a moment to recharge. Real friends – help you pick up the pieces when you thought you were balancing well, but discovered you weren’t. They forgive you if you hurt them unintentionally, and don’t hold it against you the next day. They help you when you need it most – without expectation of reciprocity, although you’re compelled to give in return because you are grateful. Real friends know when to cross your boundaries (when you’re being stubborn) and when to respect them (when you need to figure things out on your own).
I make it a point to tell my friends how much I care for them because on dark days, I don’t want to imagine how things would be different without them. They encourage me, enlighten me, and leave me in awe. And nobody can make you laugh like someone who knows you well – because they make the best inside jokes – the ones no one else understands except you and them. Sometimes, we take our friends for granted, and can leave them feeling very empty. Friendships are relationships, too that also need to be nurtured. If you know who your genuine friends are, remember to let them know that your bond will last for a lifetime. To the friends who love me most…thank you.
Inspired by those who know me best…