During the summer of 2012 I embarked on a quest to examine my existing friendships. I had had a rough year. I disliked my job, lost a dear friendship and was painfully adjusting to the loss of a social group that had long been important to me.
I needed to reconnect to people with whom I could expect a reciprocity of trust and genuine interest, where personal depth didn’t stop at the throw-away line, “Hi, how are you?” Like a diet lacking essential nutrients, superficial interactions online and off were depleting me. Nourishment would come from old-fashioned face-to-face.
I decided to make a list of local New York area friends I wanted see in the flesh (for now, long-distance friendships would have to remain virtual). Some I had seen within the last year. Others not for twenty or thirty. I was determined to reevaluate–and hopefully reestablish–both older, deeply rooted friendships as well as more recent ones.
I scheduled get-togethers with each person on my list of eighteen over the next few weeks. One or two visits felt awkward and uncomfortable. Those won’t continue. With most, however, things picked up where we left off, never feeling the distance of time. I enjoyed catching up, opening up and simply feeling the warmth of a lovely friendship.
As nice as this was, I hoped my summer efforts would prompt more frequent contact, either virtual or real-life. Regrettably, many fell back into their daily lives, pushing the importance of staying in touch to the back of their priority list.
To be fair, I get it. Life happens. Lesson Learned–Know when to make an effort and when to let go: I’ll take the initiative and give you the benefit of the doubt a couple of times but then I’ll wonder if you’re interested in maintaining the connection. People do get caught up in themselves but if you’d like to sustain a relationship, ya gotta give back.
I treasure the life-long kinships made during camp, college and early work years. I’ve been lucky. These friendships seem to have the most staying power. I trust they’ll be in touch, if not in person then through technology.
But as I get older, finding durable friendships is more challenging. I thrive on social interaction. Meeting and getting to know others energizes me even if most won’t become more than a nodding acquaintance.
That realization will sustain me for now.