Friendships used to be easy. In high school I had teammates, fellow yearbook writers, and kids that lived on my street. Friendships just happened.
Then college happened… and friendships didn’t. A commuter from across the city, I rarely saw my family and didn’t have the benefit of living with people at school. My best friend was my car (which wasn’t even mine, it was my parents’), and while it listened to me rant or laugh or cry, it was really a one-sided relationship.
It’s been a constant process ever since! New life seasons, jobs, homes, and babies shift the friendship landscape. But no matter what the challenge to friendships, two truths have stuck with me:
- It’s not about who we know, but who we are that builds friendships.
- It’s not about how many friends we have, but how much we give.
If you’re like me, these two ideas might sound great, but you wonder what that actually looks like in real life. Here is a little quiz I put together for my coaching clients… a sort of friendship thermometer that I also use on myself periodically (and even ask my friends to answer about me, just to see how I can grow).
How many of these statements are true for you?
- I can leave the house without makeup.
- I can ask a friend over for coffee when my home looks lived-in.
- When I ask a friend how she’s doing, I give time for a real answer.
- I’ve let a friend see me make a mistake without making excuses for it.
- I smile at others, genuinely and often.
- I welcome people into my day and life as I can.
- I confront others sparingly and with a balanced viewpoint.
- I celebrate the wins of others instead of competing.
- I find ways to develop or learn about things that interest me.
- I reflect on my thoughts and actions to grow in the way I love others.
- I’m open to feedback from those I trust.
- I generally approach life willing to learn, instead of with defensiveness.
- I make time regularly for friends, whether a monthly coffee date, weekly phone call, or some other regular time.
- I return phone calls and emails from friends in a timely manner.
- My schedule is reasonable so I can be available for spontaneous conversations or time with friends.
- I forgive as offenses happen, not letting a grudge take root.
- I communicate about what hurts me, and receive the same feedback when shared by friends.
- I work through my own hurts so that forgiveness can translate to a fresh start with friends.
- I bring joy to friends, whether by seeing humor in life or engaging in playful activities.
- I have adventures with friends (like new restaurants, new walking routes, trying a new game).
- I don’t take myself too seriously.
- I smile and laugh with my friends.
There’s always room for improvement. Right now I’m working on availability – between work and my kids’ special needs, (and the fact that I’ve never been good at returning personal phone calls!) – that’s often been a struggle. So I’m setting goals about how quickly I’ll return calls and how I’ll build unstructured time into each day. And I’m giving myself lots of grace in the process!
Is there an area above that needs some work? What will you do today to become a better friend in that area?