What makes a FRIEND and how do you keep them?
What is a friend? Does it have to be someone that you see daily? Talk to on the phone daily?
I guess everyone has their own definition. When you are a child a friend could be anyone or anything. Who hasn’t seen a child carrying around a tattered doll or toy of some sort that they consider to be a “friend”. A little boy with a toad or insect that he really likes and considers a friend.
As children get older and become teenagers, a friend is usually someone who does the same things they do and thinks like them. High school is full of those separate groups of like minded people. Not thinking like the masses can leave the unique minded alone and ostracized.
Once the school years are behind, all bets are off. You are an individual, an adult. Life is now your responsibility. So are your friendships.
Any relationship requires effort. So do friendships. Make that phone call, see how your friends are doing. If you feel alone and have no friends around then make some. How? Well that is up to you.
I am nearly 57 now and over the years I have made many friends, at work, around the neighborhoods I have lived in and more recently online. In the past it was always the telephone that kept everyone connected. The costs of long distance phone calls would limit us in our contacts. I’ve lived all over the country, including Hawaii and the cost per minute of phone calls was something everybody had to be conscious of. Holidays and birthdays were the days that we would reach out.
Now everyone has cell phones and for many of us ONLY a cell phone. I gave up a landline a few years ago due to the costs of keeping both. The older generations still have a landline but now those are usually bundled together with their television services and they maintain cell phone service as well. Most people have some sort of internet service, whether it is for a computer, tablet or just on their cell phones.
What I find rather sad is that with all these devices for communication, ways of keeping in contact, the personal touch is being lost. Life these days is packed with so many things, jobs, families, money worries, kids and activities……it is easy to get overwhelmed and stressed and too busy to think of things like the friendships you have made in the past.
Your friends are going through similar things too. Busy lives, too many things to do in too little time. In days past when you found time for yourself, you would sit down and write a letter and keep in touch that way. Your friend would receive that letter and respond in the same way and the friendship would continue. When was the last time you actually wrote a letter? The postal service is still there but people use them for packages and not so much for letter writing. Everyone thinks to themselves that they will keep in touch by making a phone call…….one of these days.
When you are friends, really friends, you can lose touch but the second you reconnect it is like magic. The years drop away and the friendship is still there. But it takes effort. You have to make those efforts.
Reconnecting is easier now with the internet and Facebook. Looking someone up is easier and sending emails is a lot easier than buying stamps and going to the post office. But all of that still lacks the personal touch. When you reconnect, consider making the occasional phone call. Yeah, I know, you are busy……but hearing someone’s voice, someone that actually cares can make all the difference in the world. For BOTH of you.
If you say to yourself that you really aren’t interested in connecting with the old friends you had, perhaps they were a toxic combination that wasn’t good for you or your life has changed and you really can’t relate, have no fear. There are people out there just like you. New people that like the same things you like or are suffering from some of the same illnesses or trials that life sometimes throws at you.
The internet is a great place to connect with people. Now I am not saying that everyone on the internet is a great person. There are bad people everywhere and people that will try to take advantage of you and people that are just plain mean. But there are also some really great people out there and people that you might not have the opportunity to meet any place else.
Years ago I began playing online games. My son was working for a company that had a huge online game that was wildly popular and when he would talk about it I couldn’t quite comprehend what he was talking about. In an effort to understand, I tried playing the game. I was totally lost. I thought to myself, baby steps. There was another online game being put out by Disney that was brand new, so that meant everyone playing it was new to the game as well so I started playing Pirates of the Caribbean Online. I got to be quite good and became friends with people playing the game at the same time. In these online games you are able to “talk” to each other in real time and play together, team up together to solve problems and achieve goals. The Pirate game quickly became way too easy and I decided to give the other game another shot now that I understood the gaming universe a bit better. My Pirate friends also played World of Warcraft and we decided to switch to that together and off we went.
That was the beginning of MANY wonderful friendships. Tim and I are still friends to this day. He introduced me to his friend and now mine, PK and for years we have had many phone conversations and played games together. Even after they both stopped playing World of Warcraft we have remained friends. When my marriage broke up they were there for me when I cried. Moral support now for many years. I have been there for them through relationship breakups and new relationships. A marriage and the birth of a child.
Through World of Warcraft I met my friend Jeff, aka Viperhawk in the game. When I moved to California after my marriage broke up, I knew nobody in the area. But I did know Viperhawk and Bmbyf, from my game. They both lived relatively close by. Jeff and Ron, their real names, both told me to call them if I needed anything. Little did I know that my first week and first grocery trip would involve the break down of my car miles away from my house at night. One phone call and Jeff drove the 26 miles from his house to rescue me and my perishables. Years of online friendship but this was the first time we met in person. A true friend indeed.
With Thanksgiving only weeks away, Ron and his wife Carol, opened their home and Jeff and I spent my first Thanksgiving at their house. Someone ran into the telephone pole at the end of the block shortly after we arrived and all the power went out. Luckily the dinner was already cooked and candles were available so we ate and chatted for hours by candlelight. All because I made friends online in a video game.
Jeff passed away a year ago and left a bit of a hole in my heart. He was always a great friend and we talked often in-game and out. I am thankful for the years of friendship.
My friend Pam and I met the same way. She lives in Delaware I live in California but we have had years of phone calls and even though she no longer plays the game we call each other Sis, our minds are so much alike.
Amy lives in England, she and Pam and I have maintained the friendship for about 6 years now.
Donald, the best friend I have had in many years. He and I would talk daily and helped each other fill out online dating questionnaires. A few years ago, he was concerned about me spending the holidays alone and paid for my expenses, along with my dog Frosty, to drive from California to his house in Georgia where he and his girlfriend Alicia made me feel like part of the family for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. I was there for 3 months and it helped me get through some depression and made me feel cared for.
Breakdown, my dear friend from Utah, aka Mike, has always been such a wonderful friend. He has driven down to California more than once and spent some of his vacation time hanging out at my house. One year he drove the 12 hours down just to take me out to dinner for my birthday and turned around the following morning, took me to breakfast and made the drive back up. When my youngest son was getting married up in Utah, Mike went to the wedding with me and provided a buffer between myself and my ex. He knew I was stressed about seeing him and provided a shoulder to lean on. Luckily he has the sweetest girlfriend and guess how they met? Online dating.
Friends are out there for you to find. There are online groups for just about everything. If you have a hobby or are looking for one, there is a group. You have to put yourself out there, chat with people. Ask questions and of course always be safe. Keep in mind that people are not always who they say they are. I have a headset and chat with people over the internet and there are things like Skype and Facetime that let you SEE the people you are talking to as well. I have taken the time to ask questions and really get to know all of these people before I met them. I have many more online friends that I hope to meet in person in the future and no doubt I will make more friends as time goes on.
A few of my online friends have met their significant others this way. Three marriages that I personally know of and others that I have heard of.
If you are lonely, feel like you have no friends, get out there in cyber space and connect with other people. You never know. Your new best friend may just be waiting to hear from you. A little bit of effort can bring the greatest of rewards.