I’ve decided to write a series of posts about non-fiscal investments that may or may not effect our money but do have a huge effect on our lives. Once a month I will write about these investments. I’m curious about what you think. This month’s post is about friendship.
My friends are wonderful. A large number of them I have known for over 10 years, they have supported me through my journeys in Up With People, graduate school, tough stuff with family, being broke, being heartbroken, being lonely, being a b$tch because I was heart broke and lonely, being there when I was happy, being there when I had doubts about everything, you get the picture they were there. They listened patiently to me telling them the same story over and over again in different ways. They watched with some alarm as I watch Bridget Jones’ Diary and sang “All by myself” for months, listened when I b$tched about work…which I did A LOT.
They were and still are amazing. As the years passed things changed: people met significant others, they moved away, they gained weight, they lost weight, they had babies, and their life story shifted into a different phase. Mine…didn’t. It just spiraled into a deeper mess and my friends still stood by me. I’m a naturally optimistic person but that side of my nature was harder to see as time passed on. I began to notice something my phone rang less and less often and I began to get asked to do stuff a lot less often. I still got the holiday cards but something had changed, there was a distance between us and it was my fault. My friends had started to believe that they weren’t important in my life based on my actions. I was working a lot and couldn’t make nights out, or I would say “yes” then work would come up or I was tired from work and then I would cancel. Also, I was feeling down about how nothing was changing in my life made me bad company even though I tried to leave my worries at home. People can sense when you’re preoccupied. The thing is friends will love and support you through thick and thin, but, they in turn also have concerns and worries going on in their lives and you have to step it up and be there for them. I spent so much time working that I dropped the ball in my private life.
As luck would have it things have begun to change. My job pressures have also begun to ease as we have hired another person who does what I do. Also, my boss changed (another long story) and the stress at my job lessened considerably. My current supervisor has been insistent on work life balance and has made some changes to our department that discourage working overtime. I was working on average 60 hours a week. By the time I got home I was too tired to do anything with anyone. Because I am working less I am feeling physically feeling better and mentally together. I have become more and more optimistic about life in general as I became to believe more and more that my life could and would change. Optimism is a powerful emotion that is hard to destroy once it’s unleashed. It is amazing how one substantial change in my life created a ripple effect that enabled me to notice that my friendships were suffering as a consequence of my working all the time and not being around. Friendship is one of the most important human connections that we have. But, we can’t take it for granted. In this digital life that we lead it’s easy to feel like we are connecting on a deep personal level through our tweets, Facebook posts, and emails, but those are superficial connections if they aren’t backed up with meetings in “real-time.” Coffee talks, riding bikes, cooking dinner, taking a walk together, taking a class, or doing a competition. Investing in people pays off in so many ways. There is a level of consistency that you have to show people when you’re dealing with them because they believe what you do. I was so invested in feeling sorry for myself that I neglected my friends. My friends weren’t asking much from me because they understood and cared about me as a flawed human being trying to do the best I can. They didn’t (and don’t) want expect perfection from me. They just want me to do my best by them and myself. My friends have always been there to celebrate my successes and to pick me up when I failed. In turn, I have also enjoyed celebrating my friends’ successes and was honored to support my friends when they were down. So, I have been granted a do over and as I move into 2013 I look forward to rediscovering my wonderful friends. Friends are an investment worth the time and energy. Have you ever found yourself in the position where you had to be honest about dropping the ball with the people you care about in your life?
- How did you realize that there was a problem?
- Was it a single event? Or a gradual realization that something was wrong?
- Did you have the opportunity to start over? What did you do to repair the rift?
- What did you do when you couldn’t repair the rift? How did it make you feel?
- How do you approach your friendships now.
I hope you haven’t had an experience like this in your life but I imagine that most of us have. Some of you may think what if it’s just the end of your friendship? Because friendships do end and people do grow apart. But, I believe that the friends that I have now are keepers! I have been friends with most of my friends for many years. I refuse to let my friendships go so easily, but it’s obvious that they can’t continue going in the way that they were. Friendship is messy, fun, confusing, confrontational, and complicated. But, when done right friendship is a wonderful road to be on. When was the last time you hung out with your friends one on one? Or, as couples? If it has been awhile pick up the phone and schedule something easy, inexpensive or free, and don’t flake. Rediscover your friendships in 2013. They will get you through the hard times and the good times in your life. GO! call them now. Schedule some time with them do something active if you have kids don’t use them as an excuse for not meeting up-bring them along! Or make (have) your significant other spend take the kids while you’re gone.
Am excited to say that I am hanging out with two of my friends this weekend. One friend I will be going to a free Crossfit class and having lunch at my house. The other friend I will be going to lunch with at a new place in Denver (only meal out this month!) What a great way to start 2013.