There was a song, more of a jingle really, when I was growing up, Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.
It never made much sense to me then. I was too young and all my friendships were relatively new. It’s only over time that one can understand the value of a friendship that has spanned decades and endured life at its best and most challenging of times.
I am blessed with a circle of golden friendships, women who have accompanied me through my various transitions from a young woman beginning a career, a marriage and the adult chapters of the industrious years of my life, to my retirement and the new pages of my life’s story as I write it day by day.
They’ve lived it all with me, their guiding hand extended when the road got rocky, and I was unsure how to navigate the journey, their comforting embrace when grief and disappointment overcame me, learning together, maturing and becoming women who now understand better how to live a fulfilled life, moment by moment.
They know my story and I know theirs. We’ve revealed our inner selves honestly and have been accepted for who we were then and who we’ve become. These are the women with whom I will grow old and face what we must as life changes in very significant ways in the future.
But, recently, I’ve discovered the joys of new friendship. One not steeped in memories of a young life, one begun where I am now, as the woman I am today.
There’s something so intriguing about meeting a mature woman with all the road markers of life displayed in her laugh lines and furrowed brow, but not yet knowing their origin. Accepting each other at face value, willing to take a chance that my instincts are good, believing this is someone deserving of my trust, who will add to my life, as I will to hers.
It’s exciting to meet someone and invite them into my inner circle, and I believe it’s essential as I continue to evolve. But it’s also a risk. I don’t I have the time, nor the energy, to waste on someone who may not share the qualities and character I value, so I must choose well.
So far I’ve discovered it’s worth it. Here are my thoughts about how and why I am open to welcoming new friends into my life.
Learning about our common interests, talents, likes, dislikes, all those things that make us who we are is interesting and intriguing.
It’s like reading a new book, the first few chapters serve to introduce the setting, the characters, their personalities, struggles and purpose. We become comfortable with the author’s writing style and give ourselves over to them as our guides through the story, yet unknown. Learning about someone and allowing ourselves to be known is an intimate act that often allows our heart to be touched.
It’s refreshing and freeing to offer someone a glimpse into who I am now, without the baggage of my past dragging along. This person will meet me as I am. They will get to know the person I have chosen to be at this stage of my life.
One of my new friends is an actress, and I’m learning what it’s like to be on stage and in front of a camera as we get to know each other better. It’s something I’ve never explored on my own, nor probably ever would have, if I hadn’t met her.
Another new friend is a professional chef, like me. None of my other friends can relate to what we do and why. But she can.
We enjoy sharing creative experiments, introducing each other to techniques and new recipes, collaborating and supporting each other as we both hone our craft.
I began hiking a few years ago, and it has since become an important part of my life. I joined several hiking groups to learn new trails, and I hike regularly with friends I made on those trips. They are energetic, enthusiastic about hiking and feel as I do about being immersed in nature, out beyond the constructed world.
I joined a writing circle five years ago, when I decided I wanted to be published. Sharing work with my writing friends is like opening a private part of me. Reading our words to each other, revealing our thoughts, we’ve grown very close and become trusted friends.
It bears mentioning that although I share a history and a deep connection with my golden friends, it is still important to continue to invest in and nurture these newer friendships. By doing new and interesting things together and by being honest about how we are, we can grow together and become even closer.
Friendships are enriching and, for me, essential to a vibrant life, especially at this stage. I treasure each and every one of them as the gifts they truly are.
Have you made a new friend in the past year? Where did you meet? What are your common interests? How do you keep your old friendships interesting?