My daughter was quizzing me the other day about how things were when I was her age. Did we have cell phones? No. Did we have internet? No. Did we have skype? No. How then, she asked, did we stay in touch with our friends? There was this black thing that hung on the wall and it made a shrill noise letting you know someone was on the other line. She was shocked that a phone was the only way we could stay in touch. Then the conversation went a little deeper and she was asking about do I still stay in touch with childhood friends and what was it like with my friends now.
The conversation seemed innocent enough, and on my daughters end, it was. But it made me think about all the people I have met along the way and how they fit into my journey. We make a big deal about living by example to our kids in regards to healthy eating, exercise and kindness but do we show them how to be a good friend? Or better yet, when is it time to exit a friendship? Several years back, I was deeply hurt by some women I thought were good friends. Turns out, not so much. Just like in kindergarten, they didn’t want me in their club and said hurtful things behind my back. Why do we as women still continue this way of behavior? However, after being away from these former friends, I noticed there seemed to be a freedom and happy openness that had been inhabited by their toxic friendship. On more than one occasion, I had made the excuse for their bad behavior “Oh that’s just how she is….”. I hear this same excuse being uttered time and time again being by other women. I vowed then and there to surround myself with supportive, positive people in my life. Why is this so hard for us to do? Is it the “fix it” nature we have as women?
Still we meet those and invite them into our lives that might not be the best member of our tribe. I caught myself complaining to a very dear friend about a new acquaintance that had displayed some questionable behavior. She very wisely said to me “You can and should still be friends with her but you’ve just put her in the wrong space. Perhaps the space you have given her is too big and you need to move her to where she belongs”. Such simple words with a huge impact. Now I strive to make the proper “space” for those I met along the way. It might not be a very big space for the self-centered friend but she’s still there.
The biggest example I want my daughter to see is solid, loving and supportive friendships. With your mate, friends, and family. Setting boundaries and staying true to them is perhaps one of the most difficult lessons to learn, let alone teach. I’m still learning, but I do know that I feel very safe in my circle of amazing friends and wouldn’t trade that for all the shoes in the world.