Monday, May 27, 2019

On Friendship

This fall our eleven year old is starting middle school and can't go to the same school as the friends and peers he's been with since Kindergarten. It's been rough on him! He's super bummed about it and has expressed how sad he is about not being able to experience middle school with his best buddies. The reason why is because he has been attending an "out of bounds" school, which is a school that is not in our neighborhood boundaries. We chose this school because it specialized in the STEM programs (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math), which is something we wanted our kid's to experience in their public education.  However, now that he is starting middle school they have closed the open enrollment due to overcrowding and he has to attend the middle school in our neighborhood boundary and not the one from his current school's boundaries. There are other kids from his school that have to attend our neighborhood school, too, but those kids don't happen to be Odin's best buddies. 
So yah, we are sad for him, and we tried doing everything that we possibly could, including talking with the superintendent in her office and begging her to let just one more child into their school--a bright, intelligent, creative child who excels at everything he does.....but no luck. 
But, I think the good news is that he's reached an acceptance to it now and is now preparing for 6th grade at the neighborhood middle school. I'm so proud of his resilience and ability to move forward in a tough situation.

One thing we've talked to him about is how friendships will constantly change throughout his life, and that's a likely part of life. The good friends he has now may not be his friends in 1, 2, or even 5 years from now. He's going to make new friends at this new school, new friends in high school, new friends on his mission, in college, at jobs he'll have, through sports, through church, and wherever he moves that he will make new friends. I explained that It's important to be a good friend and to nurture the friendships we have, but don't be too upset if friendships change over time into something completely different than we thought.

I've been thinking a lot about friendship lately, especially as I am getting ready to go back to Hawaii where I will get together with some old friends from high school. In high school I had a group of really good girl-friends that I was inseparable from. We hung out after school, on weekends, surfed together, went to concerts together, went to parties together, and got into all sorts of teenage trouble together. Those were some of the greatest and most enjoyable times of my life of which I wouldn't trade for the world! However, as we got older and graduated high school we went many of different directions. Some of us moved away to college, moved away for jobs, went travelling, and some of us stayed on the islands a little bit longer, trying to figure out what to do next.... (me)! It was a time of separation and figuring out life, and to be honest, I haven't felt close to those girls for many, many years. It's been more recently that we've reconnected through facebook and have been able to reminisce on all the good memories plus share ourselves and our families with each other. 
Then in early adulthood I made new friends through work and in my community. Then came my time to move off the island where I started work at ANASAZI foundation and met some amazing like-minded friends that became my newest best friends. Then up to BYU-Provo where I met some more best friends. Then of course I met and married my ultimate best friend and life-partner, Micah. 

After marriage we moved (CA), then moved (ID), then moved (UT), then moved again (SLC), then moved again (HI),  then moved for one last time to where we are now (UT). In all those years of moving I managed to make a few good keeper-friends in each place we lived, whom I will cherish to this day. These, of course, are the friends I made during my mommying years. Connecting with other mothers was so vital to my motherhood survival! I am so grateful for my fellow-mom friends who I've shared and learnt so much from during the child-rearing years these past 13 years. These friends all live in different places, but I'm able to keep in touch through--you guessed it--facebook! So grateful to be able to keep in touch over lands and seas apart! 
Now I've been in the same place for the past 6 years and have made new friends, said goodbye to some friends that have moved away, made more friends that have moved in, and will continue to make more friends as life unfolds. I don't think, though, that I've made as close of friends in my adult years as I did in high school and college.  With all this coming and going and moving and changing, having kids, and then living in a small community where everyone's best friend is their sister who lives next door, I haven't had a chance to get really close to anyone like I used to be able to. It's been somewhat of a struggle for me to try really hard to make close friends here only to find myself making nice acquaintances over and over again. It's fun to know lots of people but it's even greater to have people who care about you on a regular basis. It's been a long work in progress but I think I'm finally getting there. 
MY 40th birthday party! FRIENDS!
It really does take time to get to know people. I can't remember where I heard it but someone said that it takes about 100 hours of spending time with another person to develop an actual friendship. I believe it, only I don't like it! I don't like it because it means I can't just have 5 new BFF's right away, I have to wait it out, get to know them better, find out if they're a good fit, test out our chemistry, and then develop a long-term relationship. Blah. I just want good friends right away!
Something that life coach Jody Moore said which has stuck with me is that when it comes to friends, we have to throw out the manual on friendship, because there ISN'T ONE! Meaning, if we set up a bunch of rules and expectations about how our friends should and shouldn't be, then we will probably be disappointed all the time when they don't show up in the ways we want them to.
 Sure their are basic tenets to being a good friend, but if we expect friends to act and do the things we think they should, most of the time we will probably be longing for different friends. 
For instance if you decide that a good friend is someone that brings a gift to your door on your birthday, and then your birthday comes around and that good friend doesn't show up, you're going to feel pretty disappointed! Even if the person is still a good friend, but maybe a friend that doesn't bring gifts on birthdays, she can still be a good friend. Or perhaps you have a rule that a good friend is someone who swaps kids with you, but then you find that your friend doesn't want to babysit your kids at all. She, too, can still be a good friend, but maybe one that doesn't want to watch extra kids (totally me). So, anyways, the point is that we have to realize that friendships come in lots of different forms and sometimes they look differently than we think.

I had a huge eye-opener recently when someone who I've considered a good friend for a long time did something completely out of my friendship expectation-zone. I was very disappointed and couldn't believe that a good friend could behave in such a shocking way! It wasn't anything obviously rude or personally harmful to me, but was something that I just didn't expect from a good friend. I was bitter and upset about it for several weeks until I realized several things:
1. I was making rules for our friendship that she wasn't aware of, therefore expecting her to do things she couldn't possibly know about.
2. I was expecting her to behave how I would behave in the situation, not how she would behave.
3. And finally I asked myself, Is she really that good of a friend? I mean, maybe I've been under the illusion all these years that we were way closer that I thought! We had some defining moments of friendship 25 years ago that bonded us together, then a few more occasions over the next ten years where we met up and bonded over some more moments...but really?...we haven't had much quality time together to develop a closer friendship for the past 15 years! The memories of our friendship are strong, but people change. Perhaps we've changed and moved on and perhaps that's okay.

So, once I was able to stop and realize that I was making up friendship expectations for an illusory friend it was much easier for me to let go of the disappointment and anger I was feeling towards her!
That kind of makes me laugh but also it's really liberating to realize that so much of how we react to things is all in our heads. If we change the way we're thinking, we can change the way we feel!

I'm not upset with my friend anymore (it's okay, she never knew I was upset and she'll never read this or figure out it was her anyways), in fact I've let go of all the longing I've felt over the years for her to be the kind of friend I want her to be. I had a long list of expectations I needed her to follow and she wasn't following any of them but now I realize it's okay. It's more important and satisfying for me to be the type of friend I want to be than to expect it from others. 

Which brings me to my next realization about friendship--I haven't had a best friend since high school and that's okay! I've made so many wonderful soul-sister friends in my life that I don't feel it necessary to have one best girl-friend! In fact, I think it can be kinda alienating to other good friends to isolate one friend as your "favorite." I have so many favorites and am blessed to have wonderful people in my life that I can call friends. Or maybe I'm just jealous because I don't have a best friend. Haha. Maybe I would feel differently if there was one special girl-friend that showed up with gifts on my birthday, called me for lunch dates, texted just to chat, kept up with my life and the lives of my children, supported me in my hopes and dreams, never judged me or doubted me.....Like how I just wrote a bunch of rules for how a best friend should be? I don't know how best friends should be, does anyone? Maybe I'll find out someday when all of a sudden someone is blowing my mind by exceeding all my friendship expectations.

I'm excited to see my old friends in Hawaii next week! Though we've all grown apart over the years, we have so much to talk about and catch up on! We could probably spend an entire night talking about all the wild shenanigans we got ourselves into. It's going to be awesome! I don't have any of the friends that I had in elementary school, however, just middle and high school.  Those were the most fun and most formative years.
I'm also excited to keep nurturing the friendships I have now. I'm going to keep putting in my hundreds of hours in and get to know some of these amazing women around me. 
I'm excited to see where these relationships go and to be a better friend to those around me along the way. 
I'm also excited for our Odin. He's such a wonderful, caring kid. I KNOW he'll make good friends in his life wherever he goes. 

Below: The cutest cookies my friend brought me on my birthday! And I didn't even expect her to!

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