A slice of life: A friend indeed

Jo Seagar casts aside social media popularity to look at the essence of true friendship and why it is one of life’s treasures.

Thank goodness for my girlfriends. What would I do without them? One of the greatest pleasures in my life is spending time with my special mates. Funnily enough, they’re not all friends from kindy or girls I went to school with either; they are a mix of old and new.
The oldest friendships are in some ways the simplest; people you have known for years who know exactly what you are like. I don’t think my basic character has changed that much since adolescence… hopefully I’m a little wiser now, and I’ve certainly gleaned a lot of baggage on the way! But some friends and I go back far enough that I rely on their memories these days to remember my own past.
Friendships old and new are often a casualty of marriage, relationships or your age. You adore your friend… but her partner, not so much; or perhaps you have absolutely nothing in common with her significant other. In this case you often lose touch – which is such a shame.
I’ve found the way forward is to maintain a solo friendship. This is where the internet is a great help. A quick message or social media catch-up and the two of you can then get together when it can be suitably scheduled.
Between working, taking care of our families, cleaning, organising our homes and trying to eke out a few precious minutes for ourselves, friendships often get lost in the shuffle. But, as anyone who has ever had a truly great friend knows, in the end, missing out on friendship means cheating ourselves of one of life’s most rewarding relationships. Friends make us laugh, they listen to our problems and they save our sanity.
Sometimes your circle of friends decreases in number but actually increases in value. It’s the old quality versus quantity scenario. Frankly, I don’t care if you have 497 ‘friends’ on Facebook; of course we all have hundreds of acquaintances, but it is the ‘through thick and thin’ friendships I am focusing on – and I think the numbers would be realistically counted on one, or maybe two hands.
Remember, you don’t need a certain number of friends, but you do need a number of friends you can be certain of. These are the ones to hold dear.
Often, friends just have a season in your life – their part in your story is brief. All things have a beginning and an end, and friendships don’t always survive.
Sometimes you have to walk away from all the drama and the people who create it. I’m not saying when the going gets tough you leave, but life is short and you’ve got to choose to be happy. Some friends constantly drain you. There is no give and take in this sort of relationship and you don’t enjoy spending time with them any more.
Perhaps you pushed prams together and were ballet or rugby mums, or started school or college with them. Then you had loads in common, but now you’ve gone different ways.
Although they now really deplete your energy, you may feel guilty about moving on. They were so kind way back then and helped you out all the time, so perhaps you feel you owe them. But friendship has nothing to do with owing anything. It should be a joy, never a chore.
It’s important to focus and decide on who, among your circle, is an authentic friend rather than just an acquaintance. You can then concentrate on those connections. Life is too short to not make the most of your time together.
True friendships are really rewarding and also put paid to the notion that you have to be constantly in touch with someone in order to feel close to them. A true friend tells you what you need to hear and not just what you want to hear, they know you so well. Being with them is comfortable and comforting.
Good friends do nice things that really count in your life, but they never stop to count them. They know the words when you can barely hum the tune. Somehow they always enrich our lives.
My best friend said to me the other day, “I’m much more me when I’m with you,” and, ditto, I just threw that statement right back at her.
Photos: Getty Images

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