The Feast or Famine of Friendship

washingtonquoteFriendship has always been very important to me, yet it’s always been something that I’ve struggled to find and hold on to in my life. My journey in friendship has had many ups and downs and lots of highs and lows. It has been both a source of strength and happiness, as well as a source of anguish and grief.

Over the past few years, I’ve gone through a lot of friendship struggles. Most recently, I’ve hit some pretty low lows and I’ve felt some of the hardest hurts I’ve ever experienced. I have a lot of huge regrets and I made a lot of mistakes that I willingly own up to. I’ve also gained some valuable perspective, and I hope that makes it all worth it.

My biggest regrets are allowing another person to influence my thoughts and decisions, thus greatly altering the course of my life. I’ve learned that I can’t let another person’s issues cause me to change who I am, and what I do. I am not a magical genie, able to change another person to their core, just by the mere loyalty of my friendship. Also, there is a difference between showing steadfast loyalty, and allowing another person to order your life. Further that, no friendship is worth sacrificing who you are. It’s just not.

What I’ve learned most through my recent experience is that I have been severely lacking in personal boundaries in my life. I’ve allowed other people to trample through my life as they please, and I’ve always just stepped aside and let them. Heck, I’ve even offered them a chair and a cold beverage as they stomped through my metaphorical house.

I’m now learning that I need boundaries, and that boundaries are healthy and necessary in our lives. I’m learning where I end, and another person begins. I’m learning what I am responsible for and what belongs to the other party. It’s been a life changing realization.

I’m also thankful that coming out from such a difficult experience with friendship has not left me bitter to the idea of friendship. On the contrary, I feel more motivated than ever to secure and cultivate healthy friendships in my  life. The task feels daunting, because I think it’s difficult to find others to which you can connect on an intimate friendship level.

I’m also being very careful in my choices. I’ve never really thought about the fact that I can choose my friends. Usually, it feels like they just sort of fall into my life somehow, and I accept them. Now, I’m looking at it from a different perspective and I am attempting to be proactive in my search for friends.

I’m looking for qualities that I respect and admire. Though, common lifestyle and interests would be nice, I’m not putting my emphasis there. I’m focusing on people who are worth the investment of my time, people who value friendship as much as I do and people who possess qualities that matter to me.

I am not:

  • Going to pursue friendship with anyone who makes me feel like I’m not good enough as I am.
  • Going to pursue friendship with anyone who makes me feel like I need to change or hide some aspect of who I am.
  • Going to pursue friendship with anyone who exhibits intense signs of jealousy or control.
  • Going to pursue friendship with anyone who expects an unreasonable amount of my time.
  • Going to pursue deep friendship with anyone whose values are suspect and do not line up with mine in the areas that matter.
  • Going to jump into any “best” friendships or make any promises that I don’t know if I can keep.
  • Going to maintain exclusive friendships, and disregard others. I won’t allow anyone to restrict my socialization with others because of their jealousy.

I will:

  • Seek out those who have qualities I respect and admire.
  • Value the friends I have been blessed with, and make sure they know how much I do.
  • Always, always be myself and stay true to that.
  • Protect my boundaries at all times.
  • Cautiously and carefully allow others deeper into my life, as they’ve shown and proven their character.
  • Make my friendships a priority and make every effort to spend quality time with them.
  • Allow my friends to be true to who they are and respect their opinions, ideas and personal tastes.

I will-but I won’t:

  • I will be forgiving, but I won’t allow myself to be emotionally abused.
  • I will be trusting, but I won’t be stupid.
  • I will make allowances for their faults and shortcomings, but I won’t live in a vicious cycle.

I’m far, far, far from perfect. I’m a flawed person, but I’m a person that recognizes that and seeks to maintains friendships with those that are just as flawed, but just as willing to own it. I’m also a person that not only recognizes their shortcomings, but also strives to be better and make better decisions.

As 2016 gets into full swing, I’m hopeful for what it has in store. I’m feeling more inspired, more encouraged and more motivated to develop healthy friendships than I have ever been, and my prayer is that I will follow God’s wisdom and leading as I take that leap into connecting with others this year. I hope that my posting at the end of 2016 tells of new relationships made that have blessed my life, and more than that, that I have been a blessing to others.

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