I met my first real friend when I was 3-years-old and my family moved from Philadelphia to a very rural area in the Appalachian Mountains of Pennsylvania. One of my first memories is of running down my very long, dusty driveway to meet her in the middle. The driveway seemed so long then, and my parents watched from the window as I met her for the first time. She was a year older and the only girl in a large family of older brothers. From that moment on, we were inseparable. Two, dark-haired girls with ponytails, playing Dukes of Hazzard in the woods, we navigated life together, there in the mountains, as our lives were starting. We learned how to be friends.
I’ve gone on to meet many friends since then. I’ve moved in and out of countries, cities and states, meeting friends here and there as I’ve traveled. I’ve moved in and out of phases of my life, and I’ve been lucky to have a friend through it all. Some friends are here to stay, but I’ve also gone on to meet people who I thought were my friends, but in the end, were not. So, after having friends and being a friend for much of my almost 37 years of life, here are a few lessons I have learned about friendship:
1. Friends don’t care what you look like.
They don’t care about your house or your car. They don’t care if you are in the “in crowd,” because to them, you’ve always been in and you always will be in. Trendy boots? Great. Your Birkenstocks from 1995? Perfect. A true friend just doesn’t give a shit.
2. Friends check in on you.
They take time from their full lives to see how you’re doing. It might be quick, and it might not be every day or every week or even every month, but they care about you, and they want you to know it. They’re not mind readers, but they really do their best. They are present in your life, even if it’s just through a quick text, email, or brief phone call with a screaming kid or a barking dog in the background.
3. Friends are your biggest fans.
When you succeed, a true friend will be your loudest cheerleader. They won’t only clap when you win, they will shout it from the rooftops! They understand that we all have our unique talents and gifts in this world, so they lift you up and you lift them up, too. Together, you make one hell of a team!
4. Friends might not always agree with you.
And who would want them to? Sure, you might disagree from time to time, but they know that differences of opinion don’t define the friendship. They love you, and so they respect you enough not to judge your choices.
5. Time nor distance can really stand in the way of a true friendship.
I recently shared a few glasses of wine with an old friend whom I hadn’t seen in six years, and we were laughing so hard, we were crying—just like we had done all of those years ago, before our kids and our lives as moms.
6. Friends understand that you’re not perfect, and they don’t expect you to be.
You will mess up. They will mess up. But in the end, you’re friends, right? If a true friend is upset with you, she will say so to your face. They come to you to work out any kinks in your relationship because you mean a lot to them. They understand that even friendships might take some work from time to time.
Throughout our lives, we meet friends in various places and stages. Sometimes, these friendships evolve, grow with us, and last a lifetime. Other times, we meet new friends and instantly bond over a shared interest, work, or our children. As a mom, our friendships take on new roles, as they often do include our children. And through these friendships, we’re teaching our kids how to be good friends too.
Remember this: Friendships aren’t forced. If someone wants to be your friend, they will be. So, hold your friends dear and close. In fact, send them a text or give them a call now to let them know how much they mean to you. And, to my childhood friend—the one I played Dukes of Hazzard with—thank you for teaching me how to be a friend all of those years ago. I hope my own daughter meets someone just like you.