I’ve been thinking long and hard about this lately. I think with more life experiences, come more questions. As you see how friendships are forged and how they fall apart, it really makes you start to wonder who you are to all the people in your life and who they are to you.
When I was much younger, I took any connection that came my way without any thought. As long as you wanted to know me and spend time with me, you were my friend. But I realise that friendships are built over time. It takes awhile for someone to get to know you, trust you, believe in you and even more time for them to decide they want you around forever or as long as circumstances and time permit.
But MORE IMPORTANTLY is how do WE decide who gets to stay or goes. Is it based of amount of time spent together or quality of time spent together? Is it based on similarities and differences, values and belief systems? Is it based on career paths, partners, family backgrounds, status? How do we make that choice to invest in one person more than another? Could it be as simple as investing time in those who are willing to invest the same amount of time in us regardless of all of the above? I think it’s critical for us to know who is what to us because it plays an important part in who we are to ourselves. And knowing ourselves best is key.
I’ve been surrounded by tons of friends most of my life and I’m glad that most of these guys and girls are still just a phone call, text or cab ride away. But these have been the ones who’ve been around forever. I’ve also lost what I thought were friendships that would last a long long time but did not. Then there were the people I felt close to, only to realise I had put them in the wrong box. By that I mean, I put them in a different box than they had put me. I remember a girlfriend once said to me, “We don’t have that kind of friendship” when I asked her why she hadn’t made it a point to call, meet up or connect with me on a project, she, another girlfriend and I were working on together. She went on to explain that she and our other friend had been close for many years, always shared the same friends and went out frequently since they were much younger, where she and I only got close once we started working together. The much younger me back then felt hurt and rejected. I remember feeling so slighted. But when I look back, I realise I owe her a big fat thank you card because she did me the biggest favour by showing me how to put the people in my life in the right boxes. She taught me how to distinguish between acquaintances, friends, close friends, BFF’s or blood.
Blood – The people who would take a bullet for you. Free their entire calendar for you if need be. Jump to your defence no matter who or what. Treat your family like their family. Cry when you cry. Laugh when you laugh. Blood would never lie to you or deceive you unless it was to protect you. Blood would foot the bill because spending on you makes them happy. Blood would step out of a party or event to take your call just to tell you they’re busy and will call you back as soon as they had time. Blood probably invites you to everything or at least wishes you could be there all the time. Blood would not need a reason to hate the people you hate. Your hating them is good enough. Blood would ensure you stay on the right track and be the first to catch you when you fall. Blood will sing your praises even when you’re not around. No war is big enough to come between you two. Blood loves you to bits and pieces and cannot imagine life without you. Blood will never fail or disappoint you.
Friends – A friend will show up for birthdays, weddings, funerals. (We don’t even need to mention this about blood. Blood will be there as long as they can) A friend will meet you for coffee. A friend will side with you most of the time. A friend will text and call and like your Facebook and Instagram posts. A friend will meet you every now and then for a big night out. A friend will encourage you in all your endeavours. A friend will cheer you on when things are going good and try to help you out when things go south. A friend will try to help you be better person. But a friend is also capable of blowing you off and turning you down. A friend is capable of getting too busy to spend time with you. A friend is capable of becoming an acquaintance if circumstances change or conflict arises. Friends invite you to some things and not to others. Friends have other friends who may be more of a priority to them than you are. Nothing wrong with that. As long as you know, you’re just a friend.
Acquaintances – “Hi, Bye. How are you? I’m fine. Hey, hope all is well with you. What are you doing these days? Are you married now? Do you have kids? Wow, you look so much younger, slimmer, fatter, better now.” These are the conversations you have with acquaintances. They come and ago. There’s no consistency. Acquaintances may or may not invite you to things. Acquaintances never think about calling or texting you. Both parties aren’t interested in each other’s lives. Both parties couldn’t care less if the other was dead or alive.
Enemy – wishes you were dead or suffering terribly.
I have three of the above people in my life. I don’t think I have enemies but I can’t say for sure. What I do know now is that knowing who goes where, is critical to my sanity and that getting it wrong could lead to major disappointment and stress. As long as I know where I stand with someone and where they stand with me, I can always maintain a healthy connection with them and everyone’s happy. The moment I put someone in the wrong box, confusion comes into play, not just for me but for them too.
It’s not difficult to do this. Let me tell you how it’s done. Just ask yourself how you feel about someone, what you think your role is in their lives and how much you are needed. How do they add value to your life? How much appreciation do they have for you and you for them? What road are you on? What road are they on? Does the thought of that person put a smile on your face or do absolutely nothing for you? Do you feel the need to invite them to stuff? Do they feel the need to do the same? How does being around them make you feel about yourself? Do you leave them feeling better or worse? Do you love them? Do you like them? Are you indifferent to what you feel for them? These questions will give you clarity. I know because I have been asking myself all these questions about all the people in my life lately and I know exactly which box to put everyone in. What I’ve learnt is that it makes my life more efficient. By that I mean that it’s easy to know who I say yes, maybe and no to which saves me a lot of time. I don’t have to spend time wondering about the who, what, when, where, why and how of our relationship. I have clarity which makes me happier and stronger. The ride is less bumpy. I know where I’m heading and who I’m heading there with.