Friend Love: In Appreciation of My Tribe

Close-up painting of daffodils
Daffodils, 2015.

On Tuesday, in honor of Valentine’s Day, I wrote about my husband. While he’s amazing and I’m so grateful for the relationship we have, he isn’t the only source of love in my life. I firmly believe that we shouldn’t expect one person to satisfy all of our needs. Today, I want to show my gratitude for my friends.

When I was younger, I didn’t fully understand the importance of good friendships or the fact that they needed to be nourished. As a result, regrettably, I didn’t maintain many friendships from childhood or high school, though I’ve happily reconnected with some wonderful people from my youth. I still talk to and see many of the friends I made in college. We don’t live near each other, but we manage to communicate fairly often, and I see most of them at least once a year. I’ve also kept in touch with a few work friends from past jobs and special people I’ve met through various groups and organizations. And I’ve formed new friendships with some lovely people who live in my current community.

These people inspire me and motivate me. They teach me things. They reassure me when I’m doubting myself, they comfort me when I’m struggling, and they encourage me in my pursuits. They take an interest in the things that are important to me. Our interactions are restorative and fill me with joy. My friends send me cards and gifts and share books they’ve loved. They forgive me when I’m less kind and considerate than I should be. I’m not always as generous and caring to them as they are to me, but they love me anyway, which makes me love them even more as I strive to follow their examples.

I am so grateful for the people I call my friends. Studies have shown that loneliness can lead to a shortened life and that simply having friends is one of the best things you can do for your health. I don’t doubt this data for a second. My friends sustain me. They give me life.

If you aren’t as lucky as me and haven’t found your tribe yet, it isn’t too late. Sometimes, we just click with another person. It’s not always so easy, though. Making friends as an adult can be challenging, but it isn’t impossible. Here are some friendship-building tips.

My personal advice: put yourself out there. Join a group focused around an interest you share. Attend its meetings and events regularly. Ask your coworkers about their lives outside of work. Invite them to lunch, dinner, or social events. Call or email someone you haven’t seen in years and let them know you’ve been thinking about them. As someone who’s been on the receiving end of such thoughts, I can assure you, they will appreciate it.

Readers, how did your most valued friendships form? Why are your friends important to you? Please tell us your stories and advice in the comments.

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