I’ve been thinking a lot about friendships. Through a variety of experiences over the past several years, I’ve realized that there are different kinds of friends. I don’t really believe there are bad friendships. Some are toxic, definitely, but as long as you come out the other side better for it, was it really bad? 

Some friends are for a reason. There were people in my past I would have done anything for. Some I made questionable choices to please. Many of these people, I naively believed would be in my life forever. I think of a few, in particular, who acted like my friend when it benefited them to do so, then bailed when I was no longer useful. I have been resentful of these slights, but I’m not anymore. Unbeknownst to them, or maybe they do know (a few will realize it from this post maybe), they did add value to my world. Each of them taught me something. Not all of it was positive, of course, but I learned something from each of them, nonetheless. A few taught me that there are people who will only be friendly until you disagree with them on something. A few taught me that history means nothing to some people. A few taught me valuable lessons about my own nature. I’m grateful for each of those friendships, and honestly, I’m not sad that some have been lost and others have diminished to the status of acquaintances. I had someone ask me if I knew a person who had been one of my friends-for-a-reason, recently, a million memories ran through my head. There had been a huge investment in this particular relationship a long time ago. I just smile and said, “I used to.” No animosity, maybe a little sadness, but a strong conviction that I’m better for both having had that friendship and for no longer having it.

Some friends are for a season in our lives. I have so many people that I used to spend time with, particularly in college, who are no longer in my life at all. These people came into my life when it was appropriate and necessary for them to be there, but disappeared from my sphere as soon as that season ended. I’m thankful for these friendships, as well. I was fortunate to find people to introduce me to experiences I wouldn’t have had otherwise. There are things (like skijoring behind a jeep in a college practice football field, for example, or being underage in Butte on St. Patrick’s Day) that I would have never done without those friends. I have no idea where any of those friends are now, nearly twenty years later, and that’s completely ok. I value those experiences and those memories. I appreciate what they brought into my life. I wonder where some of them are. I wonder if some of them managed to survive college…

Some friends are lifelong. I am fortunate to have a handful of friends that I’ve known almost all my life. As odd as it seems to me, many people don’t have lifelong friends, at least not to this extent. A few of these friendships began at the start of first grade, a few of them came along in high school, and a few others materialized in college. These friends have seen me at my best and at my worst over the years, and though I’m sure there have been times through the years when they didn’t like who I was or what I chose very much, they knew I could be better and they waited for it. Even though it isn’t every day that I get to talk to these friends, when we do talk, we pick up where we left off and it’s like we never missed a day. These are people that I know will be there for me regardless of how long its been or how far away they are geographically.

Some friends are forever friends. These friends are my tribe of weirdos. I will actively seek to spend as much time as possible with the friends in this group on a regular basis. These are the friends who get me. I don’t have to hold back or hide any part of who I am from these friends. Any time I’m feeling weird about something, I can tell people in this group, and somebody always speaks up with a resounding, “ME TOO!” I have more of these people in my life right now than I’ve ever had before, and it is amazing to know that if somebody hasn’t heard from me in a few days, they’ll check in on me. These are the friends who immediately start making a plan the minute I indicated that I needed a change. These are the friends who get why some stupid little thing can set me off and hijack my whole afternoon. These are the ones who will ride two hours to simply have lunch and a conversation because it’s been too long. These are the people I would hop on a plane (I don’t like to fly) to visit, and not feel weird crashing at their place for a week. These are my people.

Friendships are valuable, in whatever context they come into your life. The people whom I have called my friends, without exception, have left their mark on me. Some of them fall into more than one category. I’ve learned things from every one. Some of those things I never wanted to have to learn, but I’m better for having learned those things, too. I hope that each and every one of you can spot yourself here in my words. You have made me better in some way. Thank you!