“You don’t have many friendships, but the ones you do have are deep and meaningful.”
This is a description of myself that I once read in some kind of horoscope or astrology type article. I don’t remember where or when this was, but it stuck out in my mind and is something I think of often.
At the time I didn’t understand what it meant, but I did find it strangely accurate because I am a person who has very few but close friends. Interestingly, I struggle making new friendships because I find that I don’t have very much in common with very many people. I do like to make deep and meaningful connections with people and struggle to maintain superficial, acquaintance-like friendships because they don’t seem to meet a certain “friendship need” that I seem to have. While discovering a deeper connection with people is not something that happens with the majority of people I meet, I do find myself caught off guard when I suddenly do find someone who makes me feel just a bit more comfortable in my own skin.
The problem I encounter when I do meet these people is what I should do about it.The older I get, the more I realize how difficult relationship-making becomes. The first challenge is that as people get older, they have collected a few close friendships and there isn’t as much of a need for another person to fill in a gap somewhere. Relationships take time and effort to develop and usually adding a new one means taking something away from an old one. The second challenge, and likely the hardest, is that as people get older they have collected more wounds and frailties, and they have built bigger walls to protect themselves from more injuries. I would know because I have been there a few times more than I would have liked to be.
Over the past few months, I have gotten to know a new friend better than before. She’s not really a “new friend” per se – as I’ve known her for quite a while and we’ve been occasionally in touch every once in a while. However, about two month ago we started chatting more and more to the point where we text each other daily. For the most part, it’s small, superficial things. But, she’s been a huge cheerleader and support for me while I’ve been studying. I’ve taken a few opportunities to be vulnerable with her, like telling her about my really down moods or difficult situations I’ve been enduring. Her responses have always been uplifting and encouraging. A few times she’s offloaded some of her challenges on me, which makes me feel less like this is just a one-sided friendship (which is always my biggest fear).
For some reason, I feel like there is more to this friendship that what’s just on the surface. I can’t pinpoint why. All I can say is that in the past when I’ve had this feeling about a “new friend,” I’ve reached out with a statement of true authenticity (and of course that involves vulnerability) and it has always been met with gratefulness, enthusiasm, and a deeper sense of friendship. Despite this, though, I am afraid of making a similar statement in every new situation.
When I say statement of authenticity, what I really mean is that I put my true thoughts and feelings about the friendship on paper and allow it to be read, interpreted, and processed by the receiver. I do this because I want the other person to know what they mean to me and how their presence in my life makes me a better version of myself. I truly believe that sometimes these relationship emerge and evolve out of a certain need that arises in each person’s life. But it’s not until I get a response back that I am reassured that I play as meaningful of a role in their life as they do in mine.
Anyway, back to my friend. For a few weeks now, I’ve been wanting to tell her how important her friendship has been to me over the past few months. The problem is that I don’t exactly know how to express my feelings without sounding overly strange, weird, or desperate. And, like all other times in the past, I still have an intense fear that my authenticity will be met with rejection. I fear that by opening myself up to vulnerability, I will be left wounded and missing not only a friend, but also a part of my deepest being. I think that because I don’t know exactly what it is I want to express to my friend, I leave myself open to more injury than normal. That, or I am just completely off base with my interpretation of the role our friendship plays in her life. Even in writing this post about my strife, I feel like I am making no sense about what I’m trying to express.
So, what do I do? Do I keep going the way things are going and say nothing until some other point in time (or not at all)? Or do I find a way to someone articulate the meaningfulness of our relationship at this point in my life and run the risk her thinking I’m some kind of crazy woman? The alternative side to being authentic with her is that she will reciprocate with her own statement of authenticity and bring our friendship beyond and to another level – A level supported by honesty, understanding, and gratefulness for each other in our lives.
After string this post, I think I know what I need to do. I just need a little cheering on. Please, help me find some additional clarity…