My closest friends, who are really more like family, have taught me the art of being a true friend. When I think about what I want my daughter to know about how to show up for her people, they are my teachers. Here are some of the lessons they’ve taught me over the years:
1.) They show up: They make time to show up in person, on the phone, by text. They bring you cupcakes in the hospital when you deliver a baby, bring meals to your house when life is particularly chaotic, they help you move (which is no one’s favorite), and when tragedy strikes they clear their calendars just to be with you. Everyone is busy but the best friends make time for each other.
2.) They listen: Over and over, without interruption and full of genuine interest. They don’t try to solve your problems, just help you sort through them. In fact, if you are looking for advice, you have to ask for it because their default is just patient listening that makes you feel seen and heard. They will join you in outrage, laugh with you in embarrassment, and cry with you in grief. And somehow, all of their listening helps you listen more clearly to yourself and perhaps what you’ve known all along.
3.) They remind you of who you are: Crisis has a way of making us doubt a lot about ourselves. The best friends are able to speak back to you who they know you to be when you’ve lost sight of it yourself. “You are wise, you are loyal, and you are kind. You are courageous and deeply loved.” And the miracle is you believe them because they know you inside-out and you trust their words.
4.) They always remind me, “You are not alone.” Friends inevitably end up weathering a lot of storms together. The best ones resist the urge to say, “It’s all going to be ok.” Or, “At least you still…” but instead continually come back to this one line: “I know this is so hard but you are not alone in this.” They know that the gift of friendship is less about fixing your hard places but instead sitting with you in them.
5.) They champion you: They are your biggest fans, rooting for your success in all things. There is no such thing as bragging with them because they truly believe that a win for you is a win for them. They are your fan-girls, your locker-room-speech-givers, your talk-me-off-a-ledge people and they are the voices you hear in the moments you need it the most.
6.) They are your safe place: You can show up ‘as-is’ in their company because they love you just as you are. Say anything, confess anything, turn your filter off, it’s all ok with them because they are your soft place to land.