The beauty in friendships lies within the different traits that make each of us unique. And those differences become more and more clear as we grow up. It takes age and maturity to appreciate the special idiosyncrasies and personality quirks of your close friends. And friendships can be as important as romantic relationships, especially during adolescence and young adulthood when romances tend to come and go.
As children, we involuntarily get grouped together with others who are similar: Perhaps we share the same religion and meet in religious school; or come from the same socio-economic background, living in the same neighbourhood, and meet at the local play centre. It doesn’t matter, because when we’re young, we don’t care. We just want to play.
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But as we get older, and become more individualistic, we seek out peers with whom we can relate. In high school, it often revolves around musical taste, or sports, or academic interests. In college/university, the numbers whittle down even further, and further still when we become mature, responsible adults in the work force.
An old friend of mine, whom I’ve known since we were 5, and share mutual friends, asked me the other day, “So, who have you seen lately?”
Before I could answer, she reflected, “I think it’s really hard to keep up friendships the older we get. We have our partners, our children, our extended family, our partner’s extended family, and our careers. Who has time for anything more?”
So when we do make the effort to get together with friends, it’s usually for an occasion, like a birthday, and it’s special. Recently, a group of six women went out for dinner: all married but one; three of the marrieds had kids, one was pregnant, one had none; all professional, intelligent, hard-working women, but one; two very creative in their career choice, one altruistic in hers, two white-collar office-types.
The discussion turned to a potential girls’ vacation where it became clear that this group of women, all very close, are also all very distinct. One wanted to go shopping; another’s interests lay in the local art galleries and museums; a third wanted to lounge by the pool all day; a fourth was planning her pampering sessions at the spa; and the fifth was talking about clubbing and dancing until dawn.
You wouldn’t have thought for a second that they were travelling together. But it made for fun conversation, and the realization that friendships are like blown glass: they’re each unique, precious, fragile, and should be treated with respect.
At the end of the evening, one woman exclaimed, “If someone told me I’d be going away with a group of women all intent on doing their own separate thing, I wouldn’t believe it. But somehow, my five best friends and I are, well, five one-of-a kind women — and that’s what I love about all of you.”