17 March, 2016

Friends

I've been reading a book with a very unattractive cover these last couple of weeks: The Friendships of Women by Dee Brestin. The cover is dated, but the material is classic and compelling. Despite my first impressions of this book I've really enjoyed it. Here are three take-aways:
  1. It is okay to have more than one best friend.
  2. Mentor relationships should be informal (I've realised I have numerous relationships in this category, primarily because of number 1 in the next section).
  3. Friends can be perennial or annual. God brings  many friends into your life just for a season, but a rare few are there season after season.
So I've been thinking about friends. Actually, I often think about friends. It is one of the themes of my life, the "hats" that I happily wear. In many ways it's too big a topic to tackle in a mere blog post. Here are some thoughts that might resonate with you, though:

Moving overseas brings changes
The Grove had a post last week that suggested three ways that working internationally had changed how the author made friends:
  1. Anyone is a potential friend. Yep you don't have the luxury of choosing your friends around what makes you similar. Your pool of potential friends is smaller. I don't think this was something I first learnt in Japan, though. Working in a small country town after I graduated meant I developed friendships with people very much not like me. 
  2. Discipline of small talk. I don't have too much problem with a bit of small talk, though I'm not willing to stay in the land-of-small-talk for too long. The author is right in saying that this is the bread and butter of making friends overseas, especially in another language. It is starting to connect and hopefully through that finding ways to go deeper.
  3. Distance doesn't have to distance. Oh yes. Possibly this was the biggest change for me. Having good friends who I don't see for years and years, yet can leap off into deep conversation with as soon as we get together again. As the author writes, you can't predict which friendships will thrive in this environment and which will not, it really is "a box of chocolates", full of surprises.
    Mel, a forever friend. We've known each other since
    we were babies.
Friends don't have to be like you
Another article I've read this week links in with number one above: the idea that friends have to be like you (here). I'm often amazed when I think about those who I have a close friends, how different they are in some ways to me. More fashion conscious, jewellery-loving, make-up loving, mums of girls, grandmas, mums of little ones, friends from very different cultural backgrounds (both within Australia and in other countries). Women who've always lived in the same town, women who've thrived in multiple countries.

That article lists five friends you really ought to have:


  1. A friend older and wiser than you.
  2. One that younger.
  3. Someone with a different home culture than you.
  4. Someone who holds a different worldview.
  5. Someone next door.

I have good friends in all these categories! I'm so blessed!

Last year I was talking with a friend from high school about going to our 25th high school reunion. She comes from a very different family situation and worldview to me and was concerned that I would struggle with the environment of alcohol, loud music, etc. But I assured her, with a smile, that I wanted to come and was used to dealing with "cross cultural" situations.

It's true that I lean towards introverts. I have this irrepressible urge to draw an introvert out. But I also have good friends who are extroverts (though they are exhausting at times, they are also fun).

Love the person in front of you
My life as an international women includes lots of people. Many more than I could have imagined when I was in my 20s. I think the key to surviving in all of this has been two-fold: 
  1. Loving the person in front of me (see here).
  2. Perennial friends. Friends who I know will be there throughout my journey.
A few of other posts I've written about friends:Crucial community
Do you have a job in Japan?
Precious gifts
Forever friend

2 comments:

Kimberly Todd said...

Thanks for leaving your link at VA, Wendy! I enjoyed reading your responses to the ways that the topic of friendship is popping up for you.

Michele Womble said...

I've come over from Velvet Ashes. Thank you for your post. I like the list of five friends everyone should have. I also really like your encouragement to love the one who is in front of you.