Over the last several years, I’ve written about friendship in a myriad of different ways. I’ve talked about being an easy friend, I’ve talked about the people who have most impacted my life as my friends, and so much more. You can read about my thoughts on friendship here and here. I’ve spoke to groups of people about friendship and it’s power. I’ve read more books on the subject than I thought I knew. As I reflect, there are still points in both of those blogs I think are true:
friendship shouldn’t be a burden, and we need to know we are all busy, all split in a dozen different ways, and all trying.
But, I’ve also realized something else: I’m tired of being the easy friend. I’m tired of feeling like I’m never quite enough. In that first post (2014) I said I was “completely content with being someone who, if I am lucky, gets a text or email before information shows up on Facebook.” In the 2016 supplemental post, I talked about how that had diminished me in some ways. Being the easy friend was how I convinced myself it was OK that I felt like I was the one who had to reach out, who had to ask to spend time together, that I was the outsider. So, here it is 2023, and I’m completely changing my tune.
I Am The Easy Friend No More.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying it’s hard to be my friend, but instead, I have (some would argue FINALLY) realized I matter and my heart matters. Being the easy friend often made me sad, lonely, and, quite frankly, questioning whether I really had the friendships I thought I did. You know the ones I’m talking about: the friendships that matter–that come from a place of risk and trust and vulnerability that cannot happen in a vaccuum or in isolation. I can put all of myself into a friendship, but that doesn’t mean it means anything to the other person. It has to matter to them. I have to matter to them. And when a friendship feels one sided for too long, it starts to feel like work-work that no one wants to do.
That realization has been both extremely freeing and extremely terrifying as I’ve sat with it over the last week or so. But, here’s the thing:
- I deserve to be important.
- My needs in a friendship matter, too.
- I’m allowed to prioritize relationships that prioritize me.
- The people that want to really know me will not run from any part of my story.
- You can’t force a connection with a person – you can only grow it.
- Vulnerability will change everything.
- Being there for people doesn’t mean I can be pushed aside when I’m not needed.
- I need connection to feel whole.
- Our time is too short to waste this one wild and beautiful life on superficial relationships.
- Realizing where you want to go makes the journey clearer – it doesn’t make it easier.
- Standing up for yourself may cost you people.
- It will definitely bring people into your life that feel the same way.
- Not all friendships are the same or serve the same purpose.
The opposite of being the easy friend isn’t being a hard friend.
It’s being an intentional friend – sharing my strengths, my struggles, my fears – and journeying down those same roads with people who aren’t afraid of the messy side of life.
It’s being a challenging friend – expecting my friends to challenge me to grow into who I was created to be and encourating them to be the same.
It’s being a vulnerable friend – admitting our weakness and our hurts and our fears to someone who will love you without judgement is a precious gift – doing the same for a friend can and will change their lives.
It’s being a there for all of it friend – once you’re in, you’re in. The circle of authentic friendship is small, but it’s mighty. Those that are there for all of it – the highest highs and lowest lows are the ones that make all friendships feel easy.
So, there it is. I am the easy friend no more. Friendship doesn’t come with a list of do’s and don’ts. It doesn’t come with expectations of always being the first person someone goes to in life. But it does come with an understanding that friendship is a two-way journey between your heart and mine. Building each other into who we long to be is the only way we become US.