Did you know that the General Assembly of the United Nations declared July 30 to be International Friendship Day? I don’t really need a special day to celebrate my friends. I’ve got some great friends, and I am thankful every day for them. But it is nice to know there is a special day set aside just to celebrate friendship. My life is much richer because of the friendships I have. In honor of Friendship Day, I thought share a little about what makes my friends so great. If you’ve read my blog before, you’ll know I also love great quotes. So I’m including some great friendship quotes too.
I am one of those very lucky people who can say they have a life-long friend. We met in the second grade and she’s stuck with me all these years (about 40 now, but who’s counting). She’s the sister I never had. We’ve had our ups and downs. Middle school was not always fun. High school was a little better. Then I moved 400 miles away for college. She currently lives two states away, but I was lucky to have dinner with her last week.
She’s been there for many of life’s big events and even more of the small ones. She was my matron-of-honor when I got married. She was the first person outside of the family I told when I was expecting my “bonus” baby (surprise, surprise). My first sleep over was at her house. The last one I had was there too (a couple of months ago!). I know we will always be friends.
She eloped with her boyfriend while I was living abroad. I called her from a payphone in York, England and begged her to wait until Christmas when I would be home. She didn’t. She didn’t want me to try and talk her out of it. I would have tried, but now I’m glad I didn’t. They’ve been married almost 27 years, and he is her rock. It’s funny how different things look when you reflect on them years later. I thought she was making a mistake at the time, but it turned out to be one of the best decisions she ever made.
We often joke about growing old, sitting on the porch in our rockers, and bragging to each other about our grandkids. We’re busy these days with teenagers, young adult children, and even a couple of young ones. But I can see the day will soon come when grandchildren are part of the list. And I know we’ll share the good and the not so good no matter what comes.
In My Corner, but Not My Neighborhood
I have another long-term friend. We met in those dreaded middle school years and grew closer through high school and beyond. We ended up going to the Claremont Colleges together. She’s that feisty sort of friend who’ll tell you how it is and she’ll stand up for you even if she doesn’t always agree with you. Everyone needs a friend like that. She’s also incredibly loving and supportive and very smart. She’s a really good person to have in your corner. I was the matron-of-honor at her wedding. She also married a really good guy and they are raising two great kids. Unfortunately, they’re doing it on the opposite side of the continent from me.
Some people might question why we have remained friends so long. In some ways, we are very different. She’s a Liberal Democrat in the very red state of Georgia, a full-time working mom, an Atheist, and she can curse with the best of any sailor. I was a SAHM for many years, married young, and am a devout Christian who chooses my language much more conservatively. On the surface, we don’t have as much in common as we might have with other friends. But this is a girl who has always tried to stand in my corner, offer whatever help she is able to give, and loves me regardless of our differences.
That’s what a true friend does. We’re both active volunteers in our communities and schools. We both have a tendency to stick up for the little guy and support the under dog. She is honest, hard-working, and trustworthy. Those are qualities I hope I share with her.
Her community activism has led her to run for the U.S. House of Representatives in the next election. Not the easiest thing to do for a Liberal Democrat in Georgia. Check out her website here.
Friends Make Life Sweet
What would we be without our friends? People with good friends are better prepared to deal with stress, get support through troubles in life, and have a stronger sense of belonging and self-worth. According to the Mayo Clinic, good friends are good for your health. Notice they say “good” friends. What is a good friend? A good friend is trustworthy, kind, honest, a good listener but also someone who is willing to open up about themselves. A good friend is also available. They make time for you. Sometimes it’s via text or phone calls, but they are there when you need them.
Where to Find A Good Friend
In addition to my life-long buddies, I have friends from many different walks of life. They’ve all added the richness and beauty and happiness I experience. One of the keys to finding friends is being involved in activities where you meet new people.
I have school friends that I went to high school and college with. We mainly keep in touch through Facebook and Instagram and even old-fashioned Christmas cards. School friends are some of the easiest to make. Usually, we are still young and have more free time on our hands. We may have classes and interests in common. My life was definitely more social when I was still in school.
Friends from work can be a little trickier. Sometimes our colleagues are more competitive than friendly. Some jobs don’t have as much social interaction as others. But many people do make life-long friendships in the workplace. I worked in education for several years. The teachers I know are kind, supportive, creative, and hard working. They make great friends.
After having my children, I started finding mom friends. We met through our children and their activities and schooling. I have found mom friends can be challenging, but worth it. Just because you have kids in common doesn’t mean you’ll automatically hit it off with someone. Some mom friends are better than others. If you have kids and mom friends, you know what I mean. The ones I have gravitated towards are the kind of people I’d be friends with whether or not our kids were friends too. In fact, most of my mom friends’ kids are not close friends with my kids.
We all have busy schedules so we catch up at PTA events, games, and on field trips. We carpool and commiserate about homework, mean teachers, and kid issues together. Hopefully, we’ll make the transition to empty-nest friends together as well. I think those of us who are friends in spite of our kids, rather than because of them, will make the transition smoothly.
I have church friends who I see almost every week. They have brought my family meals, taught my children in Sunday school, given hugs and encouragement when needed, and fed my soul. They are strong women who lift one another and serve on another. My church friends are not perfect, but the help me try harder to be better.
Friends Can Be Found Almost Anywhere
No kids? School’s not your thing? Not a church-goer? There are many other ways to meet people and develop friendships. Check out these ideas below.
Volunteering in your community is a great way to meet people. Find something that matters to you and volunteer some time. Maybe it’s animals? Check with your local shelter. Maybe it’s social issues? Check with a local homeless advocacy group or your local political party office.
Get Outside and Be Active
Take a walk in your neighborhood. Join the local swim club. Get involved in a Geocache group. Sign up for an activity-based social experience.
Be More Social
Accept the invitations that come to you. And offer invitations to others. People going out after work? Go. Invited to a barbecue? Ask if you can bring something to share.
Find a New Hobby
Or get more involved in an old one. Many hobbyists have groups in their communities. I went to Meetup.com and found dozens of groups in my community. There seems to be something for almost everyone. And you can also start your own. A selection of groups from my town include: a Board Game Club, a Belly Dance Group, several Hiking Groups, Meditation groups, mom groups, singles meeting singles, a pilot’s club, book clubs, adventure groups, biking clubs, and art groups.
One is Silver, the Other Gold
It’s never to late in life to make a new friend. A few years ago, I had a phone call from someone who was looking to move into my town. At the time, my husband was serving as the leader of our church congregation and we often got phone calls from families moving in. The woman on the phone was moving with her husband and four teenage children from out of state. As we talked, we found we had a lot of things in common. They moved in and we became friends. She has a great sense of humor and I always have fun when we’re together. She’s also someone who I can talk to when things are hard. I know she won’t judge me. She’ll keep my confidence and support me in whatever way she can. Another true friend. I am blessed.
I look forward to making more friends as the years move forward. It’s always uplifting when you discover someone who you just click with. Some day, I’ll have to add “retirement friends” to this list. Just think of the crazy things we’ll get up to then!
Tell me about some of your friends in the comments below. It’s a great way to celebrate Friendship Day.
Thanks for reading and please share.