Have you thought lately what a friend really means?

I have had a hard time with something lately and from what I am hearing…I am not the only one.

I have been walking my oldest son lately through the world of social media and it has given me lots to think about for myself and hopefully for him too.

Nothing points out things in yourself as watching them mirrored in your children. Humbling!

If we instantly took away social media that word “friends” would go back to more of how it was intended.

We would for sure save the word “friends” for people that we actually really knew… not just what they want you to know.

You may not know this or believe this but I am actually very private about my life online.

I don’t share too much. I save the details and most intimate pieces of me for my family and closest friends.

I think that is how it should be.

Because I do have a blog, Facebook, Instagram account etc. there are many glimpses of my life that goes out into the world but they are only glimpses.

In addition to talking to my son I was also talking to one of my closest friends this week about friendships and the modern perspective on the word and meaning.

We have all used the word “friend” inappropriately (myself included) and I want to really get better about this and save using the word friend for those that have earned it and I truly show it to them.

I think we have a blurry line now a days what a friend is and we need to step back, take a deep breath and see that it is not as hard as you may think to put things into perspective.

Social media and having the whole world available for learning, exploring and even creating relationships has allowed us to use words for sacred relationships in almost a flippant manner.

We use the word “friend” to describe people we barely know , maybe just an acquaintance or in some instances…a stranger.

What is that in between word?

We know what a stranger means.

We know what an acquaintance means.

Have we forgotten what a friend means?

 I have long loved the words and thoughts of Maya Angelou and I hope these words resonate with you as much as they do with me.

 

In a social media world of blogs, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and so much more we have given strangers the idea that they may really know you and then that makes you “friends”.

Do we just have bags and bags of acquaintances and some “deep and serious acquaintances” as Maya so clearly spoke?

Look again at what Maya said of friendship…

“But in a friendship you get to know the spirit of another person & your values coincide. Friends may disagree, but not about serious matters. A friend will stand for you when you no longer are able. A woman can say to her self “If I die, I know that my friend, my sister-friend will be here to hold up the banner”

THAT is a friendship I want to proclaim!

THAT is where I want to put my heart.

My time.

My energy.

My love.

My phone calls.

My attention.

Do you have deep and serious acquaintances in your life that are not actually friends and you haven’t taken the time to really process that?

Do you have bags and bags of people that you are giving out to and not saving the best of yourself for those that truly deserve it?

Are you wasting energy worrying about a person that is not worrying about you?

Do you have people in your life that expect friend privileges when they do not actually deserve them or reciprocate them?

Do you share your heart with everyone or have discernment about who actually listens and protects what you are feeling and sharing?

Do you know that it is completely OK to still be kind to people, care about them but not bring them over into the sacred space of true friendship?

I have a small but mighty tribe of friends and family.

These are the people I talk to each day in some form.

They love me at my best.  They love me even when I am not loveable.  They have been forgiven and have forgiven me.  They listen and I know my heart is heard.  They know me in joy and in pain.  They don’t love me because what I can do for them, give them or how I can promote them.  They don’t name drop or drop my name.  They are safe.  They are the ones that know how I am really doing and read between the lines and call to talk even though they have a million other things to do. They pick up the phone when they really shouldn’t and I do the same.  I trust them with my fears, sorrow, joy, questions, hurt…and they protect that.

I love all of the beautiful people I get to meet through teaching at retreats, teaching online, conferences, blog etc. but I could never keep up on all of these relationships.

I love that I get the honor of connecting deeply one on one when I teach and that our lives have beautiful, real and meaningful impacts on one another and our paths we are on.

I love this world that allows me to connect with so many in so many different ways but as I watch my own children navigate these new waters I want to hold myself to the same standard.

What are your thoughts?

How have you helped your own children?

How have you helped yourself?

Comments

  1. Laura French commented:

    I have used the word “acquaintance” for a long time and I use “friend” and “close friend” as well. I have many acquaintances and many friends. But “close friend”? Only a very few. My husband is my number one close friend. I am so blessed to be able to say that.
    It’s just not easy in this very busy and very mobile world to have many close friends. The few I have are gems.

  2. Lisa commented:

    Such a good thing to write about. I am very guarded in my relationships online and in life. I think I help myself by knowing who really is true. And I hold my personal stuff close to my heart and really don’t want to share it with others. There are things I just don’t think should be shared on social media. My true/real friends I can count on one hand. I can call them anytime and go weeks or months not talking to them at all. I think moving and other life circumstances has helped my children understand friendships. My husband and I talk about social media with them as often as we can. Although it doesn’t stop them from wanting to get as many likes on their post on instagram.
    I can’t imagine how it is for you as a teacher and well known artist. People wanting to be your friend, thinking they are your friend, stalkers, etc. It is such a different world than when I grew up. :-)

  3. Lisa W. commented:

    THIS made my heart sing…my friends and I my true deeply connected friends, that would stand up for me when I can’t kind of friends:) always talk about how truly TRULY blessed we are!!! They know your soul, to the deepest deepest core! There once was five of us, deeply saddened we lost one to a tragic blood clot that moved to her brain AT 44 years young. Our hearts will forever be broken. We have all been deeply connected since like first grade. We ALL live in a small town. Even though we don’t see each other even every week, we make “those calls”, send those “emails”. Its amazing those “friends” of mine. I could not imagine my life without them, not one second!!! We have already been through 2 divorces, losses of our parents, losses of dear sister-in-laws. AND through it all they have been there!!!

  4. Perhaps what we really need is another word for those in our lives who would qualify as the “sister-friend” of whom Maya Angelou speaks. We need a word that means more than friend to properly distinguish them from the friends who are coworkers we are somewhat close to or others we meet along the way with whom there is a deep connection, but not that everlasting friendship.

  5. Kate @ Songs Kate Sang commented:

    I need to chew on this for a while. My first reaction was “no really! Jeanne is my friend!” But really (maybe crying a little), I just admire Jeanne. I kinda think and hope that if circumstances permitted that we would connect in person and be friends to each other. I don’t have the best discernment. I share too easily and too openly. I love and give to people who really don’t honor that gift. I could spend much more time saving that for my dear ones.

  6. What a great post – it was brave you to discuss. I couldn’t agree with you more! I truly believe that as I have gotten older and really decided what are my priorities – mainly my family, I know that as horrible as it sounds, I have time to invest in only friendships that are reciprocated and ADD to my life, not detract. I felt it BIG time last year when I sent my oldest to high school. Realizing the really short time I have left with her in our home has shaped how I spend my time and with who. And ultimately, I feel my life is equally enriched by a small number of loyal and true friends than an army of high maintenance, energy suckers!

    As far as social media and teenagers……I don’t have much for ya. My girls are on it all – IG, Snapchat, Twitter…..I monitor, content and their time using it. I know I sound like an old lady when I tell them about my Snoopy phone that I TALKED to my friends on for hours a night when I should have been doing my homework! I do think that being on social media ourselves, we are at an advantage – lots of parents don’t even know how to use it and that’s when their kids can get in trouble! But it’s hard to watch your kid be concerned about how many IG followers they have…….Sorry, no help here.

    xo~ my internet FRIEND!
    Jill

  7. Beautifully stated Dear ONE! For me … I try to only ‘friend’ people on FB or other Social Mediums (Instagram, LinkedIn & Pinterest … the only ones I partake in with these three very limited) that I actually know. Do some slip in? Yes, but I still haven’t figured out how/why that happens. Many are acquaintances … however, for me (and, I am not as private in the past but growing more so as I move forward in my life), I find that with FB I am able to keep in contact with groups of ‘friends’ which I don’t get to see or connect with on a regular/daily basis. It has become a sort of touchstone which allows me to check in … AND, pick up the phone if necessary. I use to gauge my friends as to whom I would give my life to save. Then, as I moved thru & past my chosen profession, that clearly became too large a group (as now, that would include just about everyone:)). One of the rare attributes I have earned in this life is my measure for friendship. Can they stand in the fire with me? THOSE, Those are the ONES I know to count on. Those I call ‘beloveds.’ Since it has been clear that I would & have done so for many … knowing who would do the same for me is now how I become aware of who my true heart/soul friends are. Which does not diminish that next level of friends who already have more life experience with me that those deemed acquaintances.

  8. amen sister. I’ve tried to teach my daughter the difference between fringe friends vs forever friends . thank you for sharing what many of us believe in . ??Lisa

  9. Thank you for your enlightening thoughts, Jeanne, and also Maya’s too. When I began linking up with many ‘kindred spirit’ artists back in the fall of 2008, I kept my personal life to myself, pretty much. I joined at least six various art related ning sites, to fuel my inner art muse. I was not disappointed and have learned so much from the unselfish gals who have given their all to helping others to embrace our inner selves, to heal, to help others, and to learn from the talented sources of many people. Your ning site is really the only one where I have made more comments just for the fact you have opened it up to that positive perspective about friends and other life scenarios we would all enjoy making comments about. I too, keep pretty much to myself, and only open myself up to my closest friends, and some of those gals I have met on their blogs, and if it weren’t for them, in some hard areas of my life, and in theirs too, we can compare ‘notes’ and support each other sending thoughts back and forth for reassurance of who we are. It has been a very blessed communication! I don’t do Facebook, as I don’t want ‘to put myself’ out there, unless I had a viable business in which to promote my artwork…but that has just not come to fruition yet. I have enjoyed having Etsy to purchase the talented works of artists whom I have met on the various ning sites. This is another way I have met ‘kindred spirits’ but I am always very careful with any of my personal data and I hardly ever mention the names of family members, etc. I just like to keep it that way! This forum here is good for us artists to ‘get together’ and share some pretty basic thoughts.

  10. That was very profound and touching. I can say that my husband is not only the love of my life but my best friend — he and our children are my number one priority. Growing up it was always family first and that’s the way its remained. I know quite a few people and I have close acquaintances but no one knows me like my best friend.

  11. This is something that we need to think about in serious ways more often until we truly understand. I recently was hurt by someone I thought was my friend. Oh! I was so happy to have this person in my life. I shared the most personal things with her and she shared many things with me, but not to the degree that I trusted her. And then, when I had a disaster in my life, a time I could have really benefited from having someone there for me, she just vanished. Not just for me, but for many other people. And I began to realize that she had charmed me and so many others and that my need had left me vulnerable. I wasn’t paying attention to the NATURE of this relationship, which was that of a “useful person under certain circumstances.” Every once in a while I’d get a red flag, but I just chose to ignore it. I think that if we really paid attention, if we used Maya’s definition seriously, and were as careful with our own choices as we would want for our children, we would have real friendships and the ones that are of a different nature would fall into the category that they belong in and we would be less disappointed. And we would spend our energy on the friendships that truly deserve it. And BTW, I’m 65 and still learning! :-)

  12. i agree my friend. i have a tendency to over-share in social media. it’s never been a big challenge for me to just open the book of my world for all to see. i think when gregg was sick i already felt like i lived in a fish bowl, so why not. however, sharing about the good is easy. sharing about my sadness or failures is a different story….hence the reason i’ve shared very little regarding my parenting the last year. our kiddos are indeed growing up in a generation of “friends”….thousands of fb & ig followers. i will say my girls long for true friends, those that you spend time with & seek to really “know”…i love that as well.
    always love your thought provoking posts
    love you friend xo

  13. Maureen commented:

    Thank you. You’ve said it so well.

  14. Your words are so true…being a friend is so much greater than a like or a follow. Finding a friend who ‘gets’ you is a gift. Acquaintances are those who I can enjoy spending time with, but a friend knows me and still wants to hang out with me.

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