Whether you are married 20 years with kids or fresh out of college and just starting your adult life, if you are a woman, then you need to read this book: Friendships Don’t Just Happen!: The Guide to Creating a Meaningful Circle of GirlFriends by Shasta Nelson.
Shasta talks about how people come in and out of our lives relative to how we live our lives. Sometimes we remain friends with people we have known since our childhood. Sometimes we make instant BFFs with people we meet at a coffee shop or business conference. Ultimately, everyone we know and meet falls somewhere within our “Circles of Connectedness”.
As our lives progress and we change jobs, get married, get divorced, have kids, and move around, the people we are connected to tend to shift among the “Circles”. For example, parents tend to migrate toward other parents; singles tend to migrate toward other singles; students tend to migrate toward students; and so on. Generally, we tend to spend a lot of our time with people who have similar lifestyles. This fulfills our sense of belonging and relating.
Now, this does not mean that people who share a similar lifestyle have to be our BFFs or that we have to forget about all our other friendships. Also, this does not mean that we are no longer able to make friends with people of different lifestyles. It is simply a trend that we fall into as we go through life.
The issue that Shasta addresses is that friendships are not all-or-nothing and they take work – a lot of work.
Making and maintaining meaningful relationships does not have to be stressful or strategic, but it does require effort, persistence, and some selflessness. We have to really put ourselves out there in order to create the types of relationships we want. Sometimes that means rekindling friendships with childhood playmates; sometimes it means calling or having lunch with our BFFs on a regular basis; and sometimes it means risking rejection and making the first move.
Some people might not yet value the importance of friendship; but I have a feeling that at some point in life, each of us reflects upon our relationships and evaluates our level of fulfillment.
Personally, I have struggled with this for the past eight years. I love people. I love having friends. When someone is my friend, I love that person so fully that giving away my love makes me feel more whole. However, after many disappointing events and relationships, I naturally began to evaluate all relationships in my life and questioned whether they were filling me up or dragging me down.
As life events occurred, people fluctuated in and out of my life, and I fluctuated in and out of theirs. Sometimes I felt I had so many rock-solid friendships that would last a lifetime; but then there were moments I felt like I had no one and that my relationships were just illusions I made up in my head to make myself feel happy.
The illusion, of course, was an illusion itself. In reality, I had plenty of friends, and those friends had me. As life progressed, however, I learned that though the nature of my relationships shifted, the relationships themselves never disappeared.
Over the past eight years, I grew and changed and started becoming my own person. I sometimes forgot that my friends were growing, changing, and becoming their own persons, too. Often, this meant that we were doing different things, thinking different thoughts, and just living differently. Some relationships faded, but still happily linger and can easily be rekindled at any time. Some relationships became stronger, even after large gaps of zero communication. Some relationships stayed right where they were, never growing or fading.
The point is, no matter where we are in our lives, our relationships will fluctuate. This is not a bad thing – it’s a relativity thing.
We must not be so hard on people and expect them to fill up our lives. Instead, we must be proactive about our relationships so that we can fill up our own lives.
Some people are busy, some are lazy, and some just do not think too deeply about relationships. We can not blame them. The only person we can blame for our happiness or misfortune is ourself. If you want to talk to a friend, do not wait for her to call. Instead, pick up the phone and call her yourself. If you want to visit a friend and go to dinner, do not wait for an invitation. Send her a text message with a couple dates and locations. If you want to be closer to someone you feel you have grown distant from, do not wait for her to rekindle the fire. Just call her!
Be proactive in your relationships and you will find that your life is fuller and happier. You can not wait around for someone else to fill you up. I assure you, you won’t see a drop of what you seek.
Check out Shasta Nelson’s book, Friendships Don’t Just Happen!: The Guide to Creating a Meaningful Circle of GirlFriends. This book perfectly articulates the struggles of maintaining meaningful relationships as we meander our way through life. Shasta’s stories and explanations helped me immensely when I moved from Ohio to Hawaii. I was able to clearly wrap my head around what I was feeling and thinking and take greater ownership over my personal happiness through my relationships with old and new friends. I wish I would have known about this book in college, although I may not have been mature enough to accept the truths it speaks. I highly recommend this book to any woman of any age and any place in life. Although men might do their relationships differently, I recommend that brothers, boyfriends, fiancés, and husbands take a peek. Men can surely take some of the universal truisms in the book and apply them to their own friendships.
You can also check out Shasta’s website at: http://www.girlfriendcircles.com.