Cultivate true friendships.
Maybe it’s a becoming-an-adult thing or an always-busy-graduate-student thing, but I find that a lot of my friendships are about entertainment. Grabbing drinks, going to things, eating cupcakes. Which is all fine and good, but can sometimes make me feel like I am just adding something else to my busy schedule, rather than choosing people with which to go through life together. I’ve talked to several people my age, and we all agree that it is ridiculous that we have to make appointments to see friends, but it’s reality. I guess the quality of time depends on the people that you hang out with– whether they are people that really ask how you are doing, and really want to know what you’re about, or if they are just people who are bored and don’t want to be alone on a Friday night.
I want true friends that challenge me and hold a mirror up to myself, that make me a better person, all the while knowing what I have been like throughout a long period of time and accepting me nonetheless. This means being more intentional about emailing and Skyping to catch up, and scheduling trips to see them in person. This means choosing which friends to invest in.
Older adults are more likely than younger adults to be socioemotionally selective, which is a fancy way of saying they don’t care as much about being popular. Younger adults get concerned about developing connections with acquaintances, thinking that one day these people will come in handy, for instance, when they are looking for a job. Older adults are not as concerned about being liked by wide swaths of people, and are more aware of the people whose good esteem they do want to keep. Even if it means making choices that make me less popular, I want to be more like older adults who have friends they value and know they can rely on, and less like younger adults who are caught up in trying to be popular among acquaintances who are only around for the moment.
“There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.” –Thomas Aquinas
“9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up the other; but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help. 11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm; but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though one might prevail against another, two will withstand one. A threefold cord is not quickly broken.” –Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, NRSV
“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.” –Henri J.M. Nouwen, The Road to Daybreak: A Spiritual Journey