So, when I sat down a few hours ago, I was working on this post about how I’ve become a de facto food critic of sorts, eating at various Richmond restaurants once a month with a group of friends. When I started to get to the back story of how that all came to be –it all started with some coffee talk and a link to a really good article — I ended up going in a totally different direction. Food and friendships, two things that are too important to be to be crappy. Read on and see what I mean . . .
When I moved back to Richmond five years ago, someone told me two very important things about this town:
- Richmond is a foodie’s paradise.
- Trying to break into established mom groups is like trying to break into the mafia.
When we had lived in Richmond before, it had been as newlyweds with wide eyes. Now we were coming back with two kids (with a third on the horizon) and sleep deprived eyes. The ins and outs of running the household, taking care of myself, working on my writing and photography left me a little depleted in the adult interaction department. The Hubs and I are great friends, but what I really needed was some great girlfriends. The thing is, I’m pretty introverted. I have a hard time making friends; I always have. Once a friendship takes root, it blossoms into something longstanding. Getting to that point, however, ugh. . .I just want to skip that part and go straight to hanging out.
When we’re kids, we can just roll up on a similarly sized person, say our name, our age, and ask if they want to play. Chances are the response will be favorable and we’re on our way to building sand castles or running rag-tag around the playground and sharing gluten-free, peanut-free, organic, Pinterest-worthy snacks. By the time we’re collected to go home, we’re best friend for-ev-ah.
It doesn’t work like that as an adult. Rolling up on someone at Target and saying, “Hey, I like your shirt! Want to have coffee?” or “Hi, I’m Hilary with One L. I’m 38. You look like someone I want to be friends with. Wanna be friends?” might get you side-eyed at best and firmly escorted from the store at worst. So what’s a girl to do?
I relied heavily on my membership in volunteer and social organizations that I had joined years ago. When there were events at school, I went and sidled my way up to moms I didn’t know. I smiled. I introduced myself. I extended and reciprocated playdates. I said yes to things that left my introverted face-palming in disbelief. I put myself out there, not 52 friend dates like Rachel Bertsche, but close. Over time, with a few false starts mixed into the keepers, I’ve developed a core of friends whose company I really enjoy.
Friendships ebb and flow, as do most things and life. When you are in the weeds of childrearing, career development, marriage, and the myriad of responsibilities that come with being an adult, you need a solid support system when times get challenging. Just like someone sends a Facebook status update announcing they’re purging their friend list, sometimes you’ve got to do that in real life.
As Anna Lind Thomas says, Life is to short for crappy friends. If you’ve got five minutes, pop over to Babble and read this article. It’s so important. I’m printing it out to share with M because the specter of Middle School Friendships rolling in this direction like angry storm clouds. Yes, Thomas may have intended her words to resonate with the most fickle and fragile of creatures, tweenage girls, but what she says is significant for any woman.
As women, we take on the most. We are caregivers, chauffeurs, chefs, cheerleaders, and all manner of jane-of-all-trades. We do it all with precision applied make-up, a smile on our faces and a twinkle in our eyes, even when mascara is smudged, our facial muscles are flagging and what’s really in our eye is glitter dusted up from a craft project from Valentine’s Day. We wear the pants and the cape and we never want to show them slipping.
We don’t want to say no and we don’t want to quit, even when we realize that it might be in our best interest to do so. We power through, activities, requests, even friendships that deplete us because we’re afraid it will reflect badly on us if we stop.
When it comes to crappy friends,Thomas, gives us permission to stop.
“Sometimes you’ll find that some people just aren’t able to be a good friend to you, even if they want to be. Their traumas, insecurities, anxieties, health issues or life circumstances can make it difficult for them to give you much of anything, let alone a friendship you can rely on. It doesn’t mean they’re nasty or they don’t like you (well, sometimes it does) it simply means they can’t give you what you need — a friendship worth investing time in. So stop investing time in it.”
Life is too short for crappy friends.
I know that I’ve been a crappy friend. I’m sorry for that. Like everyone else, there are times when I have been too caught up in my own life. Despite my desire to be otherwise, I just couldn’t be the friend someone needed at that time. Good friends will be there when the dust settles, me for you and you for me.
Thomas echoes this by saying, “A good friend worth keeping will support you and what you love to do. They’ll celebrate your talents and they may even share them. . .One good friend who loves you unconditionally is far better than 100 superficial friends who really don’t care all that much about you, trust me.”
Those are the types of people who I want to spend time with. Those are the types of people I want to invest in and I’ve made the active choice to do it. And because I’m an adult, I didn’t tweet about it. I didn’t post a status update detailing how I am about to unfriend people. I didn’t post cryptic IG posts or stop liking Snapstories. I just started being a good friend, sometimes a better friend, to someone else and good things followed.
Is there someone out there you could be a good (or better) friend to? Reach out to them!