Friday, August 14, 2009

The Friends We Keep

Reading today's book made me take a close look at my history with friends and really evaluate what kind of friend I am. I had several different BFFs when I was in elementary school, not all at once, I just kind of moved from one friend to the next from year to year. I was never a part of the popular clique in school, but up through junior high it didn't really matter because I always had a best friend. Things changed in high school. I became a part of a group of friends, but didn't really have one BFF.

After high school, my first husband and I had a wide group of friends that we spent a lot of time with, but they were all guys. When a woman finally joined the group, we at first became inseparable and then worst enemies. And somehow in the divorce settlement, he kept all of the friends.

I made some really good friends in my job, but after they left or I left, those friendships mostly fell to the wayside. Now with my RA, I'm not very social, so honestly, my best friends are my mom and Jesse. This isn't a pity party, most of the time I really don't feel a huge lack within my life. I'm simply making an observation. I'm probably not a very good friend. I have a hard time being vulnerable and opening up to other people. I all too often share my opinion (read judgment) of other people, although I'm really working on that.

I think that my self-sufficiency stems from my only child status. I teared up while reading a section of the book that talks about two sisters deep love for each other. I've never experienced that kind of relationship, so I wonder if it's impacted my ability to be a good friend. (I'm not speaking for any other only children here who are probably wonderful best friends, just me) I grew up way out in the country, and there were entire summers where I didn't see a single person from my class until the first day of school.

I've always felt a bit like an outsider, more of an observer than a participant. I do crave others' approval, but at the same time, I'm very comfortable in my own skin. I don't seem to have the same need for social interaction as so many others, like my poor husband, do. I'm sure that's another reason for my failure to acquire long-term friendships.

In some ways reading this book was like reading an anthropological study of a foreign culture. The stories weren't familiar, but they were intriguing; it's definitely a land I'd love to visit. Again, I hope no one thinks that I'm feeling sorry for myself! I am incredibly blessed to have my mom and husband as my best friends and wouldn't trade the closeness I have with them for friendship with anyone else. I'm just fascinated by the entire subject.

The Friends We Keep by Sarah Zacharias Davis is a fascinating look at the friendships women carry with them throughout their lives and a glimpse into why they are so important. Davis' book is a warm-hearted and enjoyable read that delves into questions about exactly what creates and maintains a friendship. Why are some friends with us for life and others only for a season? What purpose does friendship serve? She uses movies, books, and anthropology to explain what friendship looks like and how it changes from childhood to adulthood. The book is filled with poignant and beautiful stories about friendship and how it changes us. It's a book to enjoy and then share with your best friend!

The winners of The Friends We Keep are Cynde Pitroski and Donna Jahnke. Congrats to both of them! I'll be kicking off a new contest on Monday, until then have a terrific weekend!