“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”– Anais Nin, The Diary of Anaïs Nin
I was listening to Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic as I went running this evening. It was overcast but didn’t feel like it was going to rain. There’s something magical about a grey sky, lush green trees, and empty streets. I know I digress, but I had to capture the elation in my heart as my feet pounded the tar road and I felt the cool wind sweep past me. Anyway…in the book, she talks about her friendship with novelist Ann Patchett and says how the ‘terms of the friendship’ were different. Specifically, she talks about how they met infrequently and corresponded via snail mail. Can you imagine sending a letter to a friend by post in this day and age?!
That got me thinking about the friendships in my own life and how each has its own flavour…its own ‘terms’ to use Liz Gilbert’s parlance. It also struck me how each of them is significant and plays an important role in their own way in my life. Looked at another way, if each of them was a clone of the other, my friendship landscape would be colourless indeed. The very fact that my friendships have varied depths and ‘terms’ is what makes it as robust, satisfying, and diverse. I thought it’d be fun to think through what my various friendships look like. What their ‘terms’ are and what each brings to the table.
I have some friendships that go all the way back to grade school. I’ve known my school friends for more than 2 decades. Some of them have children and it feels almost surreal to think that the girls I played hide-and-seek with have kids that I adore. I feel positively ancient. Friendships this old are like a pair of comfortable worn-out pajamas. There’s a feeling of comfort that nothing else can replicate. When we are together, it’s as if we’re back to being 15-year-olds. We’ve seen each other go through so many seasons of life that it feels like we can bare our souls to each other. We know that we are there for each other come what may. We chat regularly and the conversations are very light-hearted and fun. They’re also quite mundane which acts as an anchor for me. Even if the entire universe goes topsy-turvy, these bonds give me a sense of normalcy, familiarity, safety, and comfort.
I have some other long-term friends who I connect with deeply but am not in touch with on a regular basis. Much like Liz and Ann’s friendship, we meet or speak once in a while but when we do, we go deep. I treasure these connections because the fact that we speak once in a while means that we really look forward to the conversations. They tend to go on for hours and we cover many different areas of life. This also means that we have the opportunity to look back at the 6 months gone by which serves as a review of sorts for me. They help me touch upon the wins, failures, and plans. These talks usually to leave out the mundane stuff.
Some friendships are sporadic but very stimulating. These are the relationships with people I consider to be my mentors, coaches, and guides. I reach out to them whenever I feel like I need help with gaining clarity or navigating a tough situation. So the conversations tend to be deep and purposeful. I cherish these people in my life.
There are also friendships I have with people I’ve known from different places such as travels, previous jobs, clubs, meet-ups, etc. Many tend to fizzle out but those that do survive are the ones that tend to be positive and fun. I find it invigorating to connect with them from time to time. I do care about them and like to know how they’re doing and vice-versa.
Then there are those friendships that help me grow as a conscious human being. These are the people to whom I was first drawn to because we had common values and sense of purpose. That connection then forged a way to deeper friendship. For eg., veganism is a core part of my identity. I went to the Vegan India Conference last year where I met Shraddha and we immediately clicked because of our shared love for veganism. I then found her to be a lovely human being too and now we are fast friends. My connection with her is deep and we chat regularly about anything and everything under the sun.
I’ve formed such relationships in an online conscious growth community that I’m a part of too. I connected with them initially because of my deep interest in personal development. Bonded by that, we connected in other areas too and became very good friends. I count a lot of them as friends for life despite not having met some of them even once in person (we’ve done a ton of video calls, though!). These are beautiful friendships with people who share a common goal of being a better human being. A shared goal can be a strong bond.
Over the last few years, I’ve started to see friendships as a choice and not an obligation. I’m extremely picky about whom I make friends with. More than anything, I honour who I am and am becoming. If there are friendships that serve me no longer and are dragging me down in some way, I let them go with love. I see that as empowering for not only me but also them. I truly believe that we are the five people we spend the most time with. I am sculpted by my friendships. So I want to ensure that the people I call friends are uplifting, supportive, loving, and trustworthy. Most of all, I want my friends to be incredible human beings.
I urge you to take a closer look at your friendships. Are there any that are dragging you down? Are there some people you just don’t resonate with anymore? If yes, either let them go or add more meaningful friends into your life. Whether they are people you connect with regularly or once in a while, make sure that they help you become the best version of you and help you attain all that your heart desires.