The Care and Feeding of Friends

As the song goes: “Ya gotta have friends”, right?  I mean, life would be pretty boring without them and relying on family as your sole support group can be very ill-advised at times.  But like every living, breathing thing, friends require care.  They cannot be ignored and expected to flourish. Therein lies the purpose of this post and my dilemma.  It’s something I’ve been kicking around for a few days.

First off, in the interest of full disclosure – I am not the nurturing type.  I was absent the day they handed out maternal instincts.  I have one meager houseplant.  There are days that I find my cat’s neediness a bit overwhelming.  I’ve also pointed out to my hubby on numerous occasions that he did not marry a Florence Nightingale.  I am not a giver.  To be fair, I don’t really expect much in return either, I don’t think.  Basically, I’m an introvert. I enjoy solitude and I find I gather my energy and strength to go do all my social and/or professional stuff by spending quiet time alone.  That does not mean I’m a hermit (although, there are weekends I put in a great deal of training and aspire toward that end).  It just means I need “down time” to refuel.   Having said that, I do try to put the necessary time into nurturing my close friendships.  I like to be there for them. I enjoy getting together and spending time with them. I want to know what’s going on in their lives and also to let them know what’s happening in mine.

These days, the term “friend” is definitely thrown around.  I find it necessary to differentiate between my true, close friends, my for-lack-of-a-better-term “occasional” friends, and my Facebook friends (a mix of all the above and acquaintances, business associates, and family). While I like to keep track of what’s happening in all of their lives, I feel I just don’t have the time or energy to truly care for and nurture all of these relationships. But then what’s the point in having them? 

I do feel guilty when I realize too much time has gone by between chatting with a close friend, emailing an “occasional” friend or commenting on a Facebook friend’s wall.  It can just all be a bit overwhelming sometimes.  I certainly always enjoy getting a dinner invitation or a funny text from a close friend.  I try to be there with advice when asked or find time for a cup of coffee or wine (depending on the time of day) to listen to a friend vent, and I am always delighted by the out-of-the-blue “like” or comment on my Facebook wall.  The thing is all of this takes time.

I guess it’s like combining juggling with playing the lotto.  You can’t win if you don’t play and you have to keep all your balls in the air at the same time.  It’s hard, and it takes a lot of organization and coordination, but if done right (with only a few balls dropped here and there with nothing broken) everybody goes home a winner. Just do it.  You’ll be glad you did.

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