“Some people arrive and make such a beautiful impact on your life, you can barely remember what life was like without them.”
When I was younger, I remember my mother telling me that throughout my life I would have many acquaintances, but in the end I would find that my circle of truly steadfast friends would actually be quite small. Although I would love my circle to be massive, in reality it is not.
My life reflects my mother’s wisdom. I say wisdom because it is something that I have reflected on many times as I have experienced the ending of friendships throughout my life. Not meaning to say that my friendships have all ended badly, because they haven’t. Her words simply bring to light the fact that we are often in each other’s lives for moments or seasons as we journey through this thing called life.
I admit that over the past few weeks I have found myself pondering the idea of friendships. What is it that I am needing in a true friendship? What can I authentically offer to someone else? Why can the process feel so difficult for me?
Although I want to cultivate a true friendship I can honestly say that sometimes I get caught up in the acquaintance / friendship dilemma. Although my desire is to have a massive circle of friends, some acquaintances are meant to remain just that. True friendships will find their way to me if I simply get out of the way and allow them to happen.
I don’t think that I am any different from anyone else when I say that I want to be liked by others. For me, being a people pleaser at heart makes it difficult for me to let friendships grow on their own. I want that instant gratification, but truth be told, sometimes important and special things take time to grow.
I love perfect timing. A phone call from one of my dearest friends couldn’t have come at a better time. Little did she know that her phone call affirmed to me the beauty of a true friendship. Something I definitely needed to be reminded of.
My friendship with Annie started almost eight years ago. We both say that our friendship happened at just the right moment. I had recently moved to Seattle and had just started a new job. She was transitioning into retirement. A true friendship was found in transition. We met at a camera walking event at the Washington Park Arboretum. One of those events where you walk and take pictures, all at the same time, and then upload your photos for all to see. Annie and I had an instant connection and for the entire three hours we lagged behind the group talking and taking pictures. Being that we lived close to one another, our friendship quickly grew.
In 2016, she retired from her job and bought a little camper and hit the road. Although I was sad to see her leave, I was also very excited for her and her new adventure. She describes herself in her blog Wynn World as a vagabond photographer in an Alto trailer.
I don't describe Annie as just a photographer. I describe her as an amazing one! Her photographs are beautiful! Although we haven’t seen each other since 2016, I have been able to enjoy her journey through her blog. She has travelled all around the United States capturing its beauty through the photographs she takes.
There is so much that I love about Annie and our friendship. I love the fact that it doesn’t matter how much time or distance is between us. Whenever we connect with one another it is like no time has passed at all. We pick right back up where we left off. Our friendship is mutual -- we are both interested in each other’s lives and it never feels one-sided. I love her adventure, her care-free spirit and her sense of humor. Annie IS in my small circle of friends and I am truly blessed by her and her friendship.
One of the things that I have feared with my chronic illness is making lasting friendships. I feel that I bring a laundry list of requirements to the table. I will never be the driver of the group, I may need to cancel at the last minute and I will never be a candidate for a ‘girl’s weekend’. My body absolutely hates travel now and my idea of a ‘girl’s weekend’ would not be the same definition as 99% of the population.
I believe in transparency and as I enter into friendships I think it is my responsibility to let my limitations be known. I don’t want someone else ever to feel obligated or resentful because of them. I want my friendships to be authentic and true.
If I am not mindful, I can easily become very complacent within my own little world. It is much easier, and less scary, to find safety within my own comfort zone rather than venturing outside of it to connect with others. The problem with staying complacent is that it hinders that special friendship that is just waiting to be found.
Each of us are faced with our own set of challenges and limitations. Discovering the things that we can do beyond them is key to our success in finding those lasting friendships that we all seem to be searching for.
In a time when I found myself doubting my ability, my conversation with Annie confirmed that what I am doing, in my quest to find and develop meaningful friendships, is right on target. Being new to my community I have bravely stepped outside of my comfort zone, I have connected with others in a way that supports my limitations and I have been transparent. The result is a new, lovely circle of friendships that has formed that feels authentic and true.
Always remember, we are all meant for community. Never be afraid to reach outside of your comfort zone and find that special friendship that is just waiting to be found!
Reflect on a true friendship. What are some of the things that you love about it. How has your chronic illness affected your friendships or the ability to make them?
What is one thing that keeps you from venturing outside of your comfort zone?