What’s a friend?

“Friendship isn’t a big thing. It’s a million little things.”

Know what makes me happy? Wonderfully productive editing days that result in trimming the manuscript by 1119 words (over a hundred more than normal!).

Know what else makes me happy? The truly amazing, special people I have in my life, the friends who are every bit the family I choose. It’s a topic that’s been making its way around the blog world recently – Megan and Hope are just two of the people who have shared insightful perspectives about it – and one which I’ve been thinking about a lot, too.

It’s no secret that this year has been horrific for my family. Losing Gram was unspeakably difficult and the worst thing I’ve ever had to endure. There were so many days when the storm clouds blocked out the sun, when the sadness and grief overshadowed the joy and faith. But, as it so often happens with things like this, tragedy spawns an outpouring of support that wraps around you like a bear hug, keeping you safe and protecting you from the elements. To say it was – and continues to be – a comfort to have that support from some very special friends is an understatement. I can’t begin to find the words to explain what a difference it’s made and how forever indebted I’ll be to y’all. Thank you, thank you, thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Yes, there have been disappointments, too – people who I reached out to and didn’t get much back from in return – but that hurt isn’t what’ll last. The bonds, the connections, the genuine compassion will.

How many of us have had experiences where a friendship seems one-sided? Where you put in continual effort, day after day, and don’t receive the same in return? It’s probably a universal situation. And sure, we can move on. We can realize the wisdom behind this quote: “Never make someone your priority when they only make you an option.” Sometimes the pain still lingers, though. I have certainly had my fair share of this, sometimes from people I never would have expected it from at all. Is it a trivial disappointment in a world where there’s so much sadness and sorrow? Sure. But when you constantly give, give, give and it’s unreciprocated, the hurt is very real. I’ve learned, though, that with relationships like that, you sometimes have to let go. You can only try so hard and so long. Sometimes it’ll fade away forever. Sometimes it’ll be infused with new understanding and new life a few years down the line. Sometimes things can’t change. Sometimes they can.

And sometimes we find friendships – real, true, lasting friendships – in a myriad of places. Partnering with someone for badminton in high school gym class. Sitting outside a building in college, waiting for your first ever course. Sitting by someone in a Broadway Musicals class you weren’t even originally sure if you wanted to take. Message boards for your favorite television shows and singers. Writing communities. Blogs that instantly catch your attention and speak to something inside you.

Sometimes people will look at me like I’m speaking a foreign language when I say that I’ve met amazing people online. “How can they be real friends?” they ask. “It’s not like you see them all the time.” What I always say in response is that you don’t have to see good friends all the time, because you know they’re always there. Just because there’s a physical distance doesn’t mean there’s an emotional one. I have incredible, loving friends here in Pennsylvania, friends who I’d do anything for, no question asked. I also have the exact same kind of friends in places like Georgia, Alabama, California, Utah, Michigan, and Texas. Some people may think that’s strange. I think it makes me lucky.

And when the online and real worlds connect? Even cooler. I love, love, love finally meeting people in person after talking so long. Whether it’s a road trip down south or meeting up with a local blogger who became a fast friend, it’s always such a wonderful experience. Yesterday, I met up with Hope for dinner at Bertucci’s. After reading her blog for the better part of a year now, I felt like I already knew her, even before we met. We ended up talking for three hours (!!), and I’m super excited to have found a new, fantastic friend in her. This is why I love both the blogging and writing communities so much. The people you meet really do change your life for the better.

Okay … I have been rambling on for way too long. Apparently this is what happens when you have a post-editing adrenaline rush. Now it’s your turn. Tell me about one of your friends and why your friendship is so special. Have you ever met anyone in person after originally finding each other online? Do you believe that friends are the family we choose for ourselves?


10 thoughts on “What’s a friend?

  1. I love this! So, so true. You just never know where you’ll find a friend. At the time it seems almost inevitable, but when I look back on all of my friendships, the starting points are so random. I never knew that morning, as I got dressed and ate my breakfast, that I would go out into the world and somehow make a friend for life. It’s a cool thought, so full of possibilities. You just never know.

    Oh, and congratulations on cutting so many words. Wow! I need to send you my book stats, just to compare (because I love to compare our processes!)

    • It’s definitely a cool thought — all those people out there in the world, and you never know just who will come into your life and change it for good. The possibilities are limitless. It makes every day exciting in its own right, doesn’t it?

      Thank you! I am SO glad (elated! ebullient!) that revisions are winding down and the WC is finally almost under control. 123 pages left in this final round of edits, and then I am having a party ;) Yes, please send them. I love to compare, too!

    • You know, for as sad as it is when you discover that a friendship you thought was important has become completely one-sided, it’s such a good lesson, too. I think having experiences like that only makes us appreciate the special, wonderful friends even more!

  2. SO, SO true, regarding both the disappointment of one-sided friendships (unbelievably sad and frustrating) and the pure joy of lasting, meant-to-be friendships, especially the friendships you develop that originate on the internet. You’re right, they are real friends, and the physical distance doesn’t necessarily make the friendship harder. Friendship is much more powerful than locations and geography.

    To answer your question, I’ve met one online friend before, and when we met, it went fabulously. And now she lives about half an hour from me and we get to hang out on weekends and it’s so much fun. You’re right, these people often do affect your life for the better. And as I tend to share more online than I do in real life, there’s a certain security that comes with meeting online friends for me, knowing that they’ve seen the worst sides of me and still want to be my friend.

    I consider myself lucky to have “found” such wonderful friends online, you included, naturally. :)

    • It really is deeply frustrating – especially if it happens with someone you never would have imagined could act that way – but I honestly believe that in the long run, it just makes us appreciate the real, special friendships even more. Isn’t it awesome how many of those begin online sometimes? Sharing a common interest, whatever it may be, bonds you together from the start :-) I agree completely with what you said – there’s definitely a tendency to share more online, and that makes you feel so comfortable when you DO get to spend time together in person.

      It’s so great that you two are able to meet up on the weekends now. That must be the coolest thing, to have such a close friend move nearby.

      Aww, and right back at you! You were, of course, the California I mentioned. I am so, so glad to know you!!

  3. I’m just finally having free time this evening, so I am catching up on all of your entries I missed before writing my own :) Be prepared for lots of comments!

    I love this. You know I feel the very same way about friendship. I am so honored and blessed to have incredible friends that I share every day life with physically and also phenomenal friends who I share life with every day maybe only through a computer, but they are so special, so close and so dear to me that I can’t imagine life without them – and you, my friend, are one of those! When the online and real worlds connect – it is pure magic! I know that one day it will for us! I regret still that I was so sick the night you were in Charlotte. One day, though! :)

    Thanks for being my friend! <3

    • I’m just going to say “ditto” to everything you wrote, because I couldn’t agree more. And yes, absolutely one day! Timing was not on our side when I was in Charlotte, but it will be one day, I’m sure of it. Maybe I need to take another road trip? :-)

      Thank YOU for being a wonderful friend <3

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