Monday, August 22, 2016

Do you even have friends, bro?

It’s been a little quiet in Teacher Bert’s Corner lately; mainly because I don’t have a job and bragging about that to the rest of the world isn’t a recommended practice. It has been a doozy of a summer that is slowly turning into fall. What’s next? Who knows but I read an article recently that has sparked some thought and I I've tried to assemble my thoughts into words that hopefully bring you a dash or two of insight. Let’s dive in.

How many friends do you have? How would we even measure this? Would anyone really glance at their Facebook profile and proclaim they have 1, 072 friends? Or are we looking over our Twitter and Instagram followers and doing some basic math to come up with a reasonable number? If you want to read an intelligent person’s take on this topic, this article sparked my thinking:

A few of the highlights from the article were:
-Friendship studies conducted have found that reciprocity rates in friendship vary from 34 to 54 per cent.
-Layers of friendship. First layer has one or two people (my mom is obviously #1 with nobody in sight at #2). The second layer has four spots then the tiers gradually deteriorate from there.
-Not having close friends can hurt your physical health and decrease life expectancy.

This second article spoke on how it’s hard to make friends after 30

-Three conditions for making close friends: proximity; repeated, unplanned interactions; and a setting that encourages people to let their guard down and open up.
-Seeking out specific friends might be easier than finding a new BFF. A book friend, workout friend, food friend, etc. (I’d like to find a lady friend who I could give back massages to and she laughs at my jokes but that friendship list is not trending in the right direction)

I also read somewhere that a person is truly blessed if they have 10 true friends in their lifetime. When I was younger, I used to make fun of my mom because she only had 3 friends. “Mom, one of your three friends called last night; you can probably guess which one.” I thought I was so cool because I imagined I had X times many more friends than her. She was the lucky one.

I tried to figure out a scenario of how to find out who your true friends are. I first thought of people you would call to bail you out of jail. But I thought it would be a pretty bold move for someone not to help you in that situation. Also, that is the primary reason we have families. Primary. I’m almost certain my brother’s first thought when I told him I booked a one way ticket to Thailand was that he was going to bear the weight of bailing me out of my almost certain demise.
People who would help you move is a great test. When my dad died, it meant a lot to me to have my close friends around at the same time knowing they had my back.

To me, I think my close friends aren’t necessarily people I speak to every day. I promise that some of them I wouldn’t want to talk to every day….I think moving outside of Canada, meeting more new people than I ever would have staying here has broadened my overall “friends list” but has also seen a few entries into the “close friends list”. Some people are great at staying in touch, calling, messaging or meeting up when you’re in the same area. Some people on my list are terrible at those things but I don’t hold that against them. People are great at some aspects of friendship and lacking on others but the vital element is when that person crosses your mind, how do they make you feel?

This summer has made me realize that it’s important to re-evaluate your friendship roster; not because you want to delete people from your Facebook feed or be petty but to focus your thoughts, time and love on the people who reciprocate it. As we get older, we make less new friends but grow closer to the ones we have. Grow close to the people who deserve it, make you feel loved and are there for you like when you are there for them. It’s okay that not everyone is a close friend, it’s just important to understand your tiers, manage expectations (of course!) and be open to letting new people into your life and seeing where it takes you. They say you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Who are you spending your time with?

“Two things you will never have to chase: True friends & true love.”  Mandy Hale