There is a saying that “you can’t pick your family, but you can pick your friends.” I suppose this is true for the most part. You are born into your family, so the bonds there are permanent. Through ups and downs, agreements and disagrements, you will always hold on to the core connection with your family members because “blood is thicker than water.”
And, it is true, of the people you meet in your life, there are some with whom at some point you make the decision to move beyond acquaintenances and toward friendship. But I have a theory that at least for the strongest friend connections, there is a big dose of Fate that is involved as well.
We all have friends who have seemingly come and gone in our lives. It is virtually impossible to stay closely connected to every one of our friends from childhood through adulthood. (For that matter, the same holds true with extended family!). Even though the miracles of Social Media have helped many of us get re-acquainted, we just don’t always stay deeply bonded with past friends. Yet we hold great memories of time together, even if it spans decades. Luckily, with some of the friends whom we haven’t seen in a long time, even years, we still hold a unique connection so that if the opportunity arises to connect in person, we know darn well that “click” will still be there, and we will have a great visit.
Where Fate comes in, I believe, is with those friends who for whatever reason came into your life at the moment they did, in the manner they did, and have never left. These individuals are your closest friends, your personal Board of Directors. They each bring with them their own personalities, experiences, outlooks on life…. Yet at least one or two of their traits completely melds with yours. I also believe that these folks help mold who you are as a person. Some become so close they are like the proverbial “soul sister” and you can’t imagine life without them. And what is truly fascinating is how you met in the first place. Take a moment and think about your own Board of Directors. How did Fate get you to meet? Assigned as college room-mates? Bumped into each other getting coffee? Both chose the same instrument to learn in grade school?
For me, one of the most common places I have found friends is through work. This makes sense, as we spend up to 10 hours a day with these people, often for years at a time. One of my dearest friends I met at my very first job out of college – and I will honestly admit that wasn’t just yesterday! The challenge to a work-friend bond is when one, or both of you, no longer work together. Do you stay in touch? Does the friendship still grow? Some do, and they are awesome.
There are also the precious few childhood relationships that we make that last well into our adulthood. I’m not talking about college friends, I’m going back much farther than than. One of my longest (notice I didn’t say oldest!) friendships is with a BFF that I met when I was 10 years old on the school bus. Why did fate have her sit next to me? Why did two little shy girls get brave enough to connect? And how is it we never stopped? Talk about history – of all the life changes and experiences we’ve had, we have been there for each other, and still are. Pretty amazing.
And then there are the friendships that you have to truly believe are Fate-based. One of my BFF’s literally moved into the house next door to me. I’m still amazed that somehow THAT happened, just about 12 years ago, when we both apparently needed it…she and her family moved in as neighbors and they quickly became far more than neighbors or even friends… more like an extension of our family.
I think it may be harder for men to develop close friendships than it is for women. I think we are just more social, open creatures. So for men, perhaps they not only need fate, but some encouragement from others to make those bonds. But once accomplished, they can be just as strong as any. Don’t ever insult a dude’s dude.
One more note about that personal Board of Directors, as well as the other people in your life. I will admit that if it wasn’t for email and texting, I would be in much less frequent contact with the majority of important people in my life. Yes, I feel a bit guilty admitting that, but it is true. However… email, texting, phone calls, even old-fashioned handwritten letters (remember doing those?) are fine for staying in touch….but NOTHING can replace that in-person connection. Fate may have arranged that first meeting. Life experiences have created that bond. But it is up to you to make it human and real. Go see a friend this weekend. You’ll be glad you did.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a road trip to take to a BFF’s house.