When I began this blog almost two years ago, I didn’t know that blogging would enable me to make friends in real life, as well as bring me closer to a worldwide community of like-minded people.
Since you’re reading this, let me tell you this: I appreciate you!
The nature of friendship
I have been reflecting on the nature of friendship over the last few weeks. That may be because our teenager is about to do her GSCEs and move on to a new school for Sixth Form in September.
I know she has been thinking about the friends she’ll leave behind at her old school, as well as the ones who’ll move on with her. Of course, there’ll be new pals for her to make and we all know that strangers are friends you just haven’t met yet.
But how has the nature of friendship changed since we were at school?
When you are young
As a child you imagine that you’ll have the same friends your whole life. Some people do still keep in touch with friends they had at primary school, but I expect that’s fairly rare in today’s upwardly mobile world. Sometimes, childhood friends are re-united when they find one another on social media, or they manage to keep in touch through their parents who continue to live in the home where they grew up.
Make new friends and keep the old: one is silver, the other gold
My oldest and dearest friend is godmother to our daughter. We have been friends for almost 30 years. We met when we both lived in a hall of residence owned by the the high street bank for which we worked in London. This was a subsidised ‘staff perk’ to attract young workers to spend time in the capital. In 1990, this was like being at university but with pay!
I was interested in joining the drama group to which my would-be friend belonged, so I looked her up. We became instant pals and have remained close ever since, even though we haven’t lived in the same place for much of that time.
I am very lucky to still have contact with friends I made during my undergraduate and postgraduate years at university. I also still have good friends I made in the early years of living in Warwickshire and later as a mum.
Happily, some of these friendships have persisted beyond those specific circumstances. Although I originally met my friend, Lynne, at a local parent/toddler group, we have since enjoyed many years singing together. These days, we meet monthly at a bread-making group, which I wrote about here.
Some connections that you make through work or hobbies also continue via social media (especially via Facebook which is the only reason I don’t delete my account). It’s lovely to keep in touch with people who mean a lot to you and there’s the added bonus that we do meet up (either regularly or from time-to-time).
Minimalism and friendship
I have been really fortunate to make new friends through the contacts I’ve made with those connected to the world of minimalism and simple living.
My lovely friend, Rae, hosted the London leg of Courtney Carver’s Tiny Wardrobe Tour two years ago. I realised, after the event, that were both Warwickshire-based and it’s been an absolute delight to get to know her.
Lindsey and I met, as part of my quarterly meet-ups. She’s been a great friend with whom it’s fabulous to compare simple living notes, as we compare and discuss our minimalism journey.
I’ve also begun to make friends around the globe (some in person and others virtually). What’s heart-warming and encouraging is how virtual friends can become real friends when you reach out to one another.
New ways to make friends
Connection is so important. It’s one of the four ingredients of Robert Lustig’s book that I wrote about here.
Listening to Liz Craft and Sarah Fain on Happier in Hollywood this weekend, I was reminded of the challenge of making new friends in a new location. In this ‘Listener Questions’ episode, one of the questions discussed was how to make friends when you move to a new area.
You may not want to be alone or even in that particular situation but this may still be a time when you can make connections. In his book, Resurrection Year, Sheridan Voysey calls this “ministering to others.” You may not relish being alone in a new place, but if you’re willing to put yourself out to serve others, you’ll no doubt reap the personal benefits of so doing.
That said, as the hosts of Happier in Hollywood suggested, “Put yourself out there but choose people who want to be with you.” As the pair remind us, you want, “volunteers not recruits” when it comes to friendship.
Special interest groups
If you do put yourself out there, it’s worth noting that natural friendships can take time to emerge. It may take a while to become established in a new group, especially if you join a longstanding community of people who’ve know each other a long time.
One possible way in is to join a sub-group. Last year, I wrote about my decision to join the WI. My ‘way in’, in terms of getting to know people, has been to join the WI Reading Group. We meet monthly at someone’s house over wine and nibbles, often followed by cake (of course!) and tea or coffee. Whilst we do spend a good amount of time discussing the book for that month, we also connect in ways that aren’t possible when you’re in a monthly WI meeting of 50+ members.
So, find your ‘tribe’ and you may make some unexpected friends.
And remember, it’s said that a dog is ‘(wo)man’s best friend’. You always have a friend when you have a dog.
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