what type of friend are you?
it’s a dramatic question (a regular feature around this blog
) but one that i’ve been thinking about a lot throughout this year. growing up, i was The Shoulder, aka the friend who was everyone’s go-to for advice about shitty men and toxic aunties, in college i was The Planner, aka the friend who led the charge on theme-based parties and forced us to do ginger bread houses, and my first-year post-grad i was The Romanticizer, aka the friend who indulged in weekend benders in pursuit of san francisco sunsets and deep meaningful conversations with strangers-turned-friends.
these days, though, this question stumps me.
i was on a drive with a friend yesterday and he was talking about how, after college, many of us learned for the first what it was like to be an intentional friend. his argument was that up until post-grad, many of our friendships were a product of our environment. my first best friend was my neighbor. my college friend group lived within two floors of each other. it’s no knock against these relationships, but they were defined - at least at first - by access, shared experience, and in some cases, convenience.
that was all thrown out the door the moment we graduated. and again when the pandemic caused us all to social distance. every relationship became a long distance relationship - and the friends you would run into at dance practice became friends you would have to carve out time to catch up with. it has been uncomfortable to learn the difference between who i will always care for, and who i truly have the ability to keep up with on a consistent basis. it has been empowering to see how friendships can evolve beyond proximity, plucking from random shared memories as a way to understand our present and not dwell on the past. and finally, it has been an imperfect process, as i’ve most certainly let people down because balance is hard and change isn’t always communicated as simply as we think.
that’s where i’m at today. i’ve toned down how aggressively i “friend” and have learned to balance the loudness with which i love with the calmness of realistic relationships maintenance. more friends have gone from speed dial to occasional but still lovely facetimes, reunions have become moments of gratitude instead of reasons to stress, and expectations have been replaced with “i love you despites.” it’s helped me rekindle friendships with people i had lost in touch with, and further challenged even the oldest relationships in my life.
i still pride myself on being all the things that have attracted warm people into my life for my whole life, but have leaned into a more sustainable type of friendship:
The Intentional One, who loves to be a shoulder, to plan and to romanticize.