I’ve been evaluating my friends lately. Before you think I’m a total snob, this wasn’t a ‘should they still be my friend’ kind of evaluation. I love my friends, and their happiness means my happiness. What it mean to say is that I’ve been trying to look at them in a different way and really re-consider them.
My best friend Kim and I have been friends for almost ten years. A few months from now we’ll hit that ten year mark. I mean crazy. When we first met we were late teens, at our very first job. She was a local, with friends already in the company, and I was new to the city and all by myself. It took us a few months to become friends, but as soon as we did, that was that. We’ve been friends ever since.
When I first met Kim, she was boy crazy. Probably so was I, but it’s what we talked about it a lot. We would talk late on the phone, gossip while we worked, and told each other the dirty details of what we’d been through.
How has that changed? Kim and I both have full time work in our perspective fields, and we don’t talk on the phone anymore, almost never. But we do hang out a lot; a glass of wine, pizza and beer, a walk around the seawall. We talk and talk and talk, and then don’t see each other for a few days. Then we talk and talk and talk, and spend another few days doing other things.
I took a look at Kim the other day, and realized a part of me still thinks of her as that same friend I used to gossip with at out first job. That’s not a bad thing, but that’s not who either of us are anymore. In some ways we’re more mature, we have more life experience, and we know the benefits of being silly once in awhile. I’ve always loved her, but have I allowed the changes in her to be real to me?
In my last relationship, one of the things that always irked me was that whenever I tried something new, the reaction I got was ‘that’s so not like you’. I used to get furious, because I wanted to changed. I wanted to try new things and figure out if they were me or not. I felt trapped in this one image of myself, and anything I did to change was met with hesitancy.
Have I been doing the same thing to Kim? Have I been thinking of her the same way I did when we first met, and not taking in how she’s grown?
I have a few friends I’ve know for a long time. One I’ve barely seen since high school, although we still keep in touch. He joined the army and has traveled all over the world training, touring, and often fighting. He was a cocky, gym buff in high school who had a good heard. Well he’s still cocky, and he’s fit as hell, and his heart is still good, but he’s not the same person he was. I can see it in his eyes. He’s not the same. I still love him the way I did back then, but he’s not the same person.
What makes him amazing now? He was amazing then, and he’s amazing now, but how? His strength and his courage make him exceptional. In high school, he was a little high on himself, and that came from a place of self-consciousness. Now, he’s confident, and he doesn’t have to prove it to anyone. With what he’s been through, what he’s seen, he just gave up on putting much effort into pleasing those who don’t affect him, and he’s a better person for it.
He’s still cocky around his friends. He’s still a macho guy. And he doesn’t discriminate. He’s just… him.
I value my friends. But I want to make sure I’m valuing them for the right reasons. Kim is worth so much to me, and it’s not just in the way she affects my life. It’s also in the person she is by herself. My army friend who I don’t see as often as I’d like, is important to me for so many reasons. My colleague at work whom I’ve gotten to know really well is not just someone I work with, but someone who is a little silly, likes to go out all the time, but one of the most accountable people I’ve ever met. You could not let you down. It’s just not in his nature. He’s one of those people you could call anytime, from anywhere, and he would come and get you. He’s the kind of person who gives up his own comfort to make sure you’re taken care of.
What about Dee, my friend I lived with for awhile after my breakup? She takes care of people, almost to a fault. She works hard every single day, and doesn’t ask for more than she has. She believes in health and strength, and although her heart is a little fragile, she’s strong.
I want my friends to know that they can be themselves around me, and I won’t judge them. I want them to feel comfortable in saying what they thing, and being who they are. I think that the best way to do that is to take a step back and re-evaluate them and notice the things I might have been taking for granted. And I have to realize that I’m not the same person either. I’ve been through so much since I met most of them.