I think people sometimes expect too much from friendships. Either they raise the bar too high and people cannot reciprocate to sufficient levels or maybe our friends are more independent than us and we find that hard to accept. Sometimes we can become possessive of people. We don’t need to have a best friend or even best friends. All kinds of friendships are good.
I favour a very laid-back informal approach to friendship. I give but I don’t count what I get back. I’m happy to be friendly anyway and try to expect little in return.
We need people in our lives and the more friends we have the better. You can have different types of friendships – friends from yesteryear that you only rarely meet, friends from the golf club, colleagues from work, neighbours and cousins.
I think one of the best strategies for ensuring that you have ‘friends’ is to get involved in things. By joining a course or club you will certainly meet new people. This helps to extend your network.
Sometimes we need a ‘buffer’. A buffer is someone to bring along with you for the sole purpose of not appearing as a ‘loner’ when joining something. Often a family member can be a buffer. I don’t mind going to events on my own (if I have to) but naturally I prefer company. However, other people find this challenging. We’re all different people.
I know many people who extended their network of friends by joining various clubs – from prayer groups to wine societies. Volunteering is also very beneficial because you’ll meet new people and have a new sense of belonging through the work that is done.
Some people are better at being ‘social’ than others. They have built up confidence over the years from experiencing success in cultivating relationships and sustaining them. They may have more confidence than you. There will always be people who are more confident and successful than you. Rather than feeling inferior by observing such confidence or another person’s huge network of friends we need to focus on our own little successes. We need to focus on the people that are within our own network as the gifts that they truly are. It may be your sister, brother, mother, father, neighbour, classmate, fellow committee member, cat or dog.
All relationships count and many people experience immense therapeutic benefits from their relationship with nature or God.
It is important to be able to sit with ourselves and hear ourselves breathe. By connecting better with ourselves we can contemplate our vulnerability and imperfection as traits we share with everyone else on the planet.
(C) Shane Martin