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What I’m about to write is long overdue, and is based on one of the most important subjects in my life: my friendships.
I’ve been saying this for a very long time and though I wonder if I might sound like a broken record, it always warrants repeating – both in my own head… and aloud.
I’m incredibly blessed. Over the course of my lifetime (to date), I’ve managed to rack up a very special ‘repertoire’ of outstanding girlfriends. And because I believe in offering credit where credit is due, I won’t hesitate to put my money where my mouth is: Alex, Amanda, Anoeschka, Courtney, Danielle, Laetitia, Leslie, Sarah… I’m talking about you.
In this past week alone, I’ve had interactions that have beseeched me to reflect on the importance of solid friendships and have also served to reaffirm just how fortunate I am to be surrounded by a close circle of intelligent, funny, beautiful, passionate, and sincere women who make my life so much better just by being in it.
During the ‘Q&A’ period of a recent presentation I gave at the Junior Achievement Company Program, one youth posed the following question: “You seem like a very motivated person. How do you stay so motivated?” My answer was simple. “I surround myself with wonderful people,” I said. “My friends are my greatest motivators. They inspire me, challenge me, and don’t allow me the option of ‘giving up’.”
I will tell you what else I told this young group of achievers. Keep passionate people in your life. They are the best kind. All of my friends are interested in something. And most of the time, their interests are not perfectly aligned with mine. And I’m fine with it. I don’t care if Courtney is totally ‘into’ yoga, while I get my kicks in fashion and women’s rights. It makes no difference to me. Just be passionate about something. Anything. And be positive. My friends are my friends because they are ‘doers’. They are all out in this world making something happen. And it’s their own ‘thing’… and I love, love, love them for that. It makes them who they are and it makes me who I am. No. It makes me a better version of myself. Because when I observe them doing their ‘thing’, it encourages me to do my own thing, as well. They are as invested in my success as I am in theirs. And, for me, that’s a big part of a solid friendship.
There are plenty of ‘nice’ people in the world who are content with not doing much. That’s fine. And I respect their decision to ‘not do’. But they are not the people I connect with. Let them go and be friends with someone else.
Granted, in the ‘friends’ department, I have never surmised my aforementioned blessing to ‘dumb luck’ or anything of the sort. I’m a firm believer that, when it comes to friendships, you get back what you put in. If I allow you to get close to me, I will give you all that I have. I will make sure you feel important and cared for. But I expect the same treatment in return. While I don’t believe in taking life too seriously (we’ve all heard that saying, “you’ll never make it out alive, anyway”…), I take my friendships very seriously. They take a great deal of work and commitment, and should be honoured as such. You should treat your friends like prized possessions, because that is exactly what they are and should be.
Now this whole ‘you get what you give’ mantra that I ascribe to is, sadly, not always the case, and when it isn’t (aka: when you’re constantly investing your time, energy and love without seeing any ‘returns’), you let go. You have to. Like any good investor, you know when to hold ’em, when to fold ’em, and when to walk away. The same should be true of your friendships.
For the record, no one is expecting perfection. We’re all human, and we all screw up sometimes. But we should be aware of the effects of our actions on others, and I’m including our friends in this lot. Here’s a spot-on saying that speaks to this: “Sometimes you apologize, not because you think you’re wrong, but because your relationship means more to you than your ego.” That certainly applies here. When you do screw up (which you inevitably will), own up to it. Even if you don’t think you’re in the wrong, take some responsibility. All too often, we let our pride get in the way of the bigger picture. If it’s an issue that is not going to matter in a year from now, just let it go. A super-sized ego is never worth losing a true friend over.
And so I’ve swallowed my pride (when and as necessary) and have held on to some very “good investments” (sorry for the lame analogy, but it’s the best I’ve got). Some of these investments have been long-term (we’re talking 15+ years) and some of them are relatively new, but all of them are highly valued and I wish we were all a little more vocal with our appreciation for good friends. Okay, okay, I’m pretty vocal…
I really cherish my closest girlfriends and my penning this post is essentially just a shameless plug for their awesomeness. If you’re reading and feeling blessed too, then let us share in our good friendship ‘fortune’ together. Alternatively, if you’re thinking, “Dude, I need to get myself some different friends!” then I suggest you get on it… and quick. Studies show that people with good friends live longer. And who doesn’t want to live a long and prosperous life surrounded by their awesome friends…