In elementary school my best friend was a guy named Jason. All I remember of our friendship is that we both liked baseball, girls really liked Jason, and one time he made fun of my fanny pack.
A few years later I met my new best friend, Michael, also through baseball. What began as convenience (he lived right around the corner from me) grew into a lifelong friendship. I’d say he was more like a brother, but I tried to date too many of his female relatives to be comfortable using a family metaphor. I was at Mike’s house just about every day. To be honest they probably grew tired of me, but I never knew it. We snuck into movies, watched every Rockets game, at all the Mexican food, and I was even invited to join his family on vacations.
When I was young all my friendships were primarily centered around shared interests: sports, movies and watching TV and…um…well, that’s about it I guess.
Something is different in adulthood. Shared interests are important, but they are more of a spice than a key ingredient. You don’t make friends around shared interests. You share your interests with your friends. I’d say, you share yourself with your friends.
I have been thinking a lot about friendships recently. It is an area in life where it is so easy to fall out of balance. We live in a world where there is the very real phenomenon of “Crowded Loneliness” – the ability to be surrounded by people but still feel very alone. Over the past several years more people than I can remember have confessed to me feeling like they aren’t close to anyone.
It is not good for man to be alone.
Relationships are as much a need for health as diet and exercise. People with close friendships live longer and experience a greater feeling of contentment and joy in their lives.
I asked on social media what people look for in friendships. Unsurprisingly we want, “Loyalty, love, trustworthiness, honesty, acceptance, laughter, & thoughtfulness”. It’s no surprise that the people who manage to find individuals who fit that description describe their lives as more full of joy!
Sadly, it’s also no surprise that the average American has less than 2 friends
How can we want something so good that we know will bring so much happiness to our lives, yet fail to obtain it?
It’s because you don’t fall butt-backwards into friendships like that when you are an adult. In elementary school Jason sat next to me in my kindergarden class. Mike was the only kid on my baseball team that was as bad as I was. When you are a kid you look up and you have friends.
When you are an adult you have to make it happen. Building friendships defined by those characteristics above don’t occur by accident. It’s something you have to cultivate.
And I think we have forgotten how…