Five Reasons to Cultivate Friendships in Mid-Life
This is a bittersweet post.
In recent months, I have a new awareness about friendships between women. Women who are over 50 (like me) begin to see life with a new perspective. We need good friends during this time of life, as this decade when things begin to shift a bit.
What I have learned from the intensity of living through my forties and now settling into this official “middle age” decade offers a grounded sensibility about cultivating friendships at this phase in life. Getting to this fifty decade (that has so much pomp and circumstance before we arrive) has me noticing how good it is to have company close. Hopefully, we had friends to carry us into this decade and offer a party or a dinner out. Keep these friends, as there are so many good times ahead to share.
Now that I am 51, I have gone through some things that are part of this decade: losing a parent, losing a pet, supporting (too many) friends who are having health challenges, donating to our children’s schools, intentionally planning the next few years to put in as many good memories into my oldest child’s life before she takes off into the land of adulting.
It’s being at this precipice of the next phase that I see how all of this wraps up. The parents in my life are all approaching or over eighty years. It feels important to share the very best love that I can to them is important to fill them up with positivity. I am getting a bird’s eye view that this part of life includes lots of doctor appointments, procedures, and set backs. The trajectory includes the body breaking down and readying for the next phase of life, which is going into the ether.
Wait a minute this is getting a little too intense! Well this is exactly why I want to share these five reasons to cultivate friendships at this time in life. There is so much to share in these experiences and good friends can help keep you company during all that life throws at us along the way. These are five reasons you want to cultivate the friends you have into close friends, as well as, cultivate new friendships along life’s path.
1. Friends give us a new perspective.
When we get caught up in our own lives, sometimes we lose sight of the gains. Positive friends will always connect you back to the possibilities of the terrain you are traveling. Good friends may repeat back what they are hearing and it may be different than what you are saying. Friends help us bounce into a new perspective by lovingly offering wisdom that you may not have considered.
2. Friends may help nourish us when we need it.
When things get low and you are in a place which requires lifting you up. Friends may take the wheel and bring you food, set up a meal train and invite other friends to nourish you. They may pick up the tab at dinner out because they want to treat you to something special. They may bring you lemons from their yard so you can make lemonade! The company of our friends and sharing food is a form of healing. When the chips are down, this is always a welcome form of healing, right?
3. A listening ear offered by a friend is great therapy!
Good friends may simply carve out the time to have a phone conversation and allow you to let go of your feelings, replay a scenario, or share a wonderful experience. This is a treat when you can have a friend to listen to your life’s journey. Going back to the first point, to offer another perspective on what is on your mind.
4. A loving challenge is the sign of a true friend.
A friend who will challenge your idea helps you develop as a person. This is the sign of a true-blue friend. You want to keep them forever! Offering another perspective is elevated when your friend lovingly challenges you to keep developing your perspective or to change your mind about this or that. I have a friend who checks me if I mispronounce a person’s name. I really appreciate this because the sound of our name is so sweet to our ears. When we hear our name it can be very soothing to us when said by a friend.
5. Supportive friendships offer physical presence when things get hard.
When we go through the big things in life: a parent dies, a pet dies, getting laid off, moving, whatever this may be — we can rely on our friends to lift us up. Being physically present or virtually present, we find the support of a person’s presence can help ease the void of loss. The physical touch on your hand or your shoulder can offer an ease in the embodiment of tension, which begins to build during the shifts and changes of life. Receiving a card or flowers during a rough patch can be uplifting when friends aren’t close. Friends who go through these big things in our lives are keepers for life! These are times when bonding can be tight. Including friends in your experience will help you feel uplifted as opposed to feeling rejected or alienated.
Family is also key in all of these five points. However, sometimes family can’t replace friendships which are built on chemistry, energy, and simply because we like one another. The complexity of day-to-day childhood family relationships transmuted into adult family relationships aren’t the same as a chosen friend who we just happen to really like. The detachment is helpful when we go through big things, as family can sometimes trigger unexplained feelings of withdrawal, anxiety, or even shame.
Friends are supports who help us be a better version of ourselves. They just love us for us. There may be some social dynamic (friend of a friend, friend through work, etc.) that is part of your friendship, but if this kind of friend is showing up for the tough times, then they are a true friend.
Cultivate your friend garden.
If you have lost friends or they have moved, begin to cultivate cherished old friendships virtually. Send a text. Message them on social media. Begin following what they are into. Are there still sparkles that feel like this should keep going? Then begin touching base with them from time to time. The energy in this feeling is uplifting and honest. This is positive energy.
To make a friend, be a friend. I have lived by this simple motto my whole life and I am so grateful to share that I have so many circles of friends that I sometimes can’t keep up with all of them. There are not enough hours in the day! If you are short on friends, the best thing to do is to make an intention to be more active in your communities. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Get to know your neighbors. I guarantee you, investing in befriending your neighbors can result in better relationships overall. You don’t have to be best friends, but engaging in a little small talk and chatting about the neighborhood is a good investment to cultivate good energy in your life when you are out and about. You will begin seeing this neighbor wave and smile at you. That is a good thing that is uplifting.
Examine where you naturally meet people. Is it in your workplace? If you are doing more on-site work time, begin to introduce yourself to the new faces who may have shown up since the pandemic. Find out what your work mates are into and you may find a common interest from which to draw on in a future conversation. This may open up your world in a way that is positive and dynamic. Be open to this and you will certainly begin adding new circles into your life simply from your workplace.
Dive into your interests or hobbies. Uplift your life with the additions of cultivating yourself to be the kind of person who has interests and hobbies (if you aren’t already). If you like knitting, go to a local store and learn about the people who run it. Are there local circles that you can knit with? Maybe you could learn a new pattern from them.
If you like yoga, attend a class in a space that you’ve always wanted to try. Here in San Francisco, legendary yoga instructor, Darren Main teaches yoga at Grace Cathedral. His classes are so special and every time I have attended, I have met interesting individuals and have garnered a wonderful friend from this experience.
If knitting and yoga aren’t your “things” what lights you up? Begin to cultivate your energy around your interests and you will meet people of similar sensibilities.
I love meeting new people, but I have friends who take this blog post and expand upon it with strides! My friends Erica (we met in my 40s) and Anna (we met in my 20s) actively attract high quality friends. I am so lucky to be in their worlds and get to meet the people they befriend. I have benefitted from their social bubbly intentional lives and so have many other lucky people who they hold close as friends. This is an elevated state of friend-ing and I hope to be like them one day! Both of these women have taught me the five reasons to cultivate friendships which I listed above and I love them for it!
Tell me your experience! Is it easy for you to make friends? Has it been kind of tough since the pandemic? What is going on in your world. You can drop a comment or email me at email@example.com.