Think back to when you were in the 2nd grade. How many friends did you have? If you’re a social butterfly like me, then you had lots of friends. I knew practically everyone in the 2nd grade at my little, country elementary school and they all knew me. I was the one who was always on the play ground holding court and making sure everyone had room on the jungle gym. If you can’t get along on the jungle gym then there’s no hope for you in the halls of a school. I tried very hard to make people feel welcome and accepted, which lead to my bevy of friends.
Flash forward to high school and gym time was an entirely different story. Not only do jungle gyms disappear in 6th grade (sadly) but so did my popularity. In 6th grade I began to show signs of becoming awkwardly tall and awkward in personality. The quirks that set you apart and make you cool when you’re little, immediately are seen as weird when you hit middle school. It’s all about homogeny and I wasn’t good at that game. So, I had a couple friends that were my besties, but that was really it. All the awkwardness of middle school was only exacerbated by age and my entrance into high school. And to some degree it continued into college.
The older I got the smaller my pool of friends became. In my head, I still had this picture of me on the jungle gym surrounded by all kinds of people, all kinds of friends. The friends that will get your back in a fight. The friends that will tell you it’s stupid to fight. The friends that started the fight. The friends who are fighting you. The friends on the sidelines cheering you on. I’m the kind of girl that cherishes all the friends. The more the merry.
So, to have a handful still throws me sometimes. I feel like I’m doing something wrong if I invite my friends to my party and 4 people show up. It doesn’t diminish the importance of those 4 friends, it’s just that sometimes my head doesn’t reconcile itself to my present reality. It may sound juvenile or silly, but what it really is, is completely honest. I have a hard time with reality. Especially when I paint really gorgeous thoughts and ideas in my head. Why wouldn’t I want to spend more time up there?
See, in my head, it’s easy to be friends with people, but in reality it is difficult to be a friend and have friends sometimes. Especially when most of my besties are far, far away. There are times when I think that I’d make a better cave person than a friend. I want so desperately to do life with people that I care about, that I forget that there are people who don’t want to do life with me back. It’s still a new concept for me, hopeless optimist that I am. But it has become part of my present reality. A decidedly painful reality.
I get it. We all have one life to live and we have to make choices about who gets our time. Time is very important to me, so I understand spending it well. I guess the thought that I would be someone undeserving of a person’s time and energy is just so baffling, because I find myself occasionally delightful at best and moderately tolerable at worst. I hope that doesn’t sound narcissistic. It’s just that I spent all those awkward teen and college years trying to be anyone else. And I’ve finally accepted that I’m a pretty neat person. So I don’t apologize for liking myself after all this time. Liking yourself is a gift!
With that in mind, I want to give the time that is allotted to me to those individuals who enhance my life’s journey. And what I’ve learned is that quantity does not matter. Who cares how many friends you have? What matters is who will show up when you need them the most. The quality of friendship far outweighs the latter.
I am blessed to count on my hands a number of people who would drop everything to take my call. And who I would do the same for. I hate to make it sound harsh and I truly hate adulting. While cutting out the chaff may be difficult, it is a vitally important step in the process of growing up.
That’s not to say that I don’t still sometimes wish I was back on the jungle gym where things were easy and you became friends with someone simply because you were both wearing the same color…it’s just not physically true anymore. And I don’t have time for the fair-weather friends of the world. What happens when the storm comes? Who’s holding the umbrella with you? That’s the friend I want in my corner. It’s the kind of friend I hope that I am to my quality handful.
You’d think that social media would help immensely with this friendship problem, but it only muddies the waters. It only creates a false sense of closeness with people who let go of you a long time ago and you just forgot to delete from your contact list. So, gentle reader, choose quality over quantity. You can pick your friends and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose…unless they’re a quality friend, then they’ll probably pick your nose right back!