Happy Monday! Today’s topic came to me in a complete rush — I was overwhelmed by love and appreciation, and truly just had to write. For context, about a week ago, I got invited to my *first* group chat. I’ve always been an “every friend” — it’s easy for me to talk in quick spurts with people, listen, relate, connect. I’m best with individual friends, but having a group to rely on, to see regularly, to make plans with — this has never been a thing for me — until now! It got me thinking a lot about friendship, what kind of friend I am, and how to make and maintain friends.
When I about 12-years-old, my dad gave me his old copy of Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. It’s a truly fantastic book, and I recommend picking it up to read. It’s almost always on those “Top 100 Books to Read in Your Lifetime” lists, and rightfully so. I actually could use a re-read soon, because I haven’t read it since that first time. It’s a book that constantly echoes in the back of my head, and its lessons have stuck with me. These tips (most of which are inspired by the book) guide my views toward friendship:
Listen, Listen, Listen
Most people just want to be heard. They want what we all want — validation, respect, love, consideration, and compassion. They want to feel noticed and appreciated. And guess what? People love talking about themselves. So listen. Be an active listener. I promise, most people are really interesting if you just pay attention to what they’re saying. Be deliberate, be diligent. Ask questions. It will pay off.
Similarly, Take a Step Back & Let It Go
We’ve all been there. The conversations is on a roll, and suddenly, we have the perfect story to tell. But just as we’re about to begin telling it, someone else begins to speak and derails the conversation. It’s so important in these moments not to let ourselves feel deflated or even to try to backtrack the conversation just so we can talk about ourselves. For me, this used to be sooo difficult. I’m a natural introvert and getting pushed out of the conversation felt like rejection and I would shut down. But I quickly realized it wasn’t intentional — people just live fast-paced lives. Take a breath, don’t dwell, and move on.
It’s I, Not You
How you say things matter. Grammar and syntax make a difference! (I always think about that elementary school lesson: “Let’s eat, Grandma!” versus “Let’s eat Grandma!” Anyone else remember, aha?) In speaking to people, always express your feelings in “I” statements (“I felt hurt by…,” “I love you for…”). “You” statements (“You did X,Y, Z to me,” “You are…,”) come off as accusatory and unconstructive.
Friendship is all about acceptance. No one, and I mean no one likes to feel judged. We scrutinize our own insecurities enough, and we certainly don’t need someone else piling on. You have to accept your friends for who they are. In the grand scheme of things, each of us is just one big tangled mess. Getting all wrapped up in someone’s quirks is really harmful — for them and you, as well. It’s just not worth the negative feelings — and also, we are all flawed people. Love people for who they are, quirks, mistakes, and all. 🙂
I want to finish this with a short love letter to my friends (not all pictured):
I am so lucky for each of every one of you. Thank you for being in my life. I’m sitting here pinching myself that I know you and get to call you friends. I believe everything happens for a reason, and with you, this I know is true. Thank you for past, present, and future laughs, hugs, cries, smiles, support, advice, honesty, help, encouragement, and love. I want to treasure this moment and this place with you — that’s my silent promise. It won’t be like this forever, so I want to savor each memory — coffee & conversation in the morning, giggles over dinner, heads popping into my room, adventures across the Bay, sweet Sunday mornings, nights that stretch into new days.
Comment below if you have a tip for friendship or a friend story to share!