I spent a solid chunk of my childhood involved with Girl Scouts. “Make new friends, but keep the old” was part of a scouting song that we sang after every meeting. It’s something I haven’t forgotten, even at 22.
I never had a lot of friends, from grade school even to high school. But the friends I do have, I love dearly. And I’m not exaggerating when I say that I think I have some of the best friends in the entire world. These are people who have been by my side as I dealt with my friend’s suicide, my parent’s divorce, and moving more than 1000 miles to live in a new city.
Friendships aren’t easy. In fact, I think they can be incredibly difficult (although undoubtedly worth it).
The other day, I had the chance to get together with girlfriends of mine I hadn’t seen in more than two years. Sure, we’d stayed in touch, but it had been forever since we’d been able to see each other face to face. But finally, our schedules were open, we were in the same city, and the stars aligned. So we got sushi and talked and laughed for literally hours. It was beautiful. We’ve been friends since high school, but we still had plenty to talk about.
At the same time, I had someone tell me they didn’t want to be friends with me anymore; it was too hard. In their defense, I haven’t been the greatest person ever lately. There’s been struggles with my apartment, my job, and some other kinks that I’ve been trying to figure out. It hasn’t been easy, and as a result, I’ve been less than lovely and altogether defensive. Still, these are things that part of life, and hearing someone tell me they didn’t want to be friends because of it gave me that icky feeling of not being good enough. I hate burning bridges, but their words made me hot with anger, sad, and disappointed. I knew I hadn’t been perfect, but I’d tried to explain why; it was tough to swallow that someone wanted to bail on me.
So I said some things that I meant at the time, but were a touch petty, because, well, I was hurt.
Sushi with my girlfriends reminded me that the friends I deserve will stick with me through thick and thin. These are the friends who will answer phone calls at all hours of the night, together we’ll watch scary movies and drink wine, and we can all rely on one another. Of course, that doesn't make losing friends any easier, but it reminds you of the amazing people you do have in your life.
As I get older, I realize that there are people who will stick around forever, and some who will be as brief as a flash of light. I believe every relationship offers something to learn from. Unfortunately, learning something might be emotionally painful.
So today, I’m #grateful. I’m so thankful to have friends in my life who are willing to “deal with me” when I’m pleasant and when I’m not. Friends who are willing to get together at the drop of a hat, friends who will drive hours or even take a flight to visit. Friends who I can text at midnight and say, “Remember that one time you broke into my car for me because I locked my keys inside?” (Yes, that happened… he also opened my wine bottle for me with a screwdriver. Real MVP) And even though they’re across the country, they’ll respond. These are the people I want to surround myself with.
So this is my advice. Be friends with who you can, do your best not to burn bridges, but know that you deserve good friends (and you have to be a good friend, too). But at the end of the day, may the bridges you burn light your way. And it's never too late to repair friendships.