FRIENDS, Friends, friends…
One of the exciting and completely unexpected things in my life recently was a guest appearance on a local community radio station. It was a real thrill – and I hope it’s the first of many radio appearances I do.
The trigger for being asked on the radio was my blog – yes this very one you are reading now. And here’s how it happened.
One of my strategies for making friends in a new city has been a liberal use of social media. When I meet someone new I try and make a connection with them – usually on Facebook – and engage in some light hearted banter while I get to know them better – and they get to know me.
And when I bump into them into future I can then say “I saw that cool….cake you baked, holiday you went on, article you posted…” etc.
It definitely helps build fledgeling relationships. One of these new connections, read some of my blogs and liked it (hooray) and asked me to speak at a small function he was hosting. So I did – and in that audience was someone who ran a radio show – and was intrigued enough to invite me along. So I went.
On air we discussed my blog and how it started, moving to Melbourne, friendships and cyberfriendships, stress management and a topic close to my heart – workplace mental health. Listen to the full interview if you are interested in hearing me speak as well reading my words. And whilst I hope people who listened learned something from me – I learned a lot too.
I learned about the sweet spot on a microphone that you must speak into. I learned that being “on air” feels very theoretical. There is no observable audience – it just comes down to a conversation between you and the interviewer – and audience of one.
And I learned that once the headphones are on, the entire world shrinks down to yourself – to what you can hear (through the headphones) and what you say (into the microphone). Everything else, even the room you are in with the acoustic padding on the walls becomes a theoretical existence. It was a space of just me and my thoughts – very much, as it turns out, like writing.
And in that space I heard myself say something that shocked me in it’s basic truth – something I didn’t know that I knew. Something I needed the compressed, adrenalised world of radio to squeeze out of me and recognise.
And that something was about friends.
The importance of friends
Since moving to Melbourne the importance of having friends has never seemed so important to my wellbeing. At home in Sydney, I had the friends I had. I didn’t think about it much. I was at home in the city and was surrounded by family.
But in Melbourne making new friends has been a lifeline for me. Lighthearted banter on Facebook with brand new people has been of immense importance – notwithstanding leading to an interview – it has been important in helping me feel connected and part of a new place.
FRIENDS, Friends, friends…
Like many people I’ve always yearned for close friends – for the type of friend that laughs with you, and cries with you, who is there with you when you need – and who in turn asks you for help. A true heart-to-heart friendship – someone who won’t judge you and who accepts you as you are. This type of friend makes you feel loved, accepted, valued, nurtured and nourished. And gives you an opportunity to give those things to another as well.
I was talking about this type of FRIEND (in capitals) and how rare (yet special) they are. How blessed you are to have a true friend, how they provide you with all the vitamins of friendship (so to speak) in one dose – kind of like a super friendship-vitamin pill.
It was then, in that instant of talking about the pinnacle of friendship, that I realised there are so many other different types of friends and people in our lives that we need to honour, appreciate and enjoy – who will give us our friendship vitamins in many doses over many different types of contacts.
One type is the “Capital F” type Friends – not the true, close heart-to-heart type FRIEND listed above – but “Friends”. Special and close people you may exercise with, lend books to and invite over for meals. You know enough about each others lives to be of real value – yet the deepest most intimate parts of self you don’t necessarily share.
And there’s a spectrum. Some you are closer to – you ask and give advice. Some are more distant. Some are acquaintances to say “hi” to in the street or in a store. To smile at across the street and wave as you pass each other in traffic.
And then there’s “small f” friends who primarily exist in cyberspace. You may or may not know them – but you can interact over those parts of our lives we share on Facebook, Twitter etc.
Don’t miss out
There’s different doses of friendship-vitamins you get from each of these types people. Collectively it adds up. Each small interaction on Facebook, or wave on the street builds up and helps to grow a friendship lifeline we all need. And it goes both ways. What we give we receive – and vice versa.
Maybe it’s not the same as the vitamins you get from a true FRIEND – but the richness and diversity of vitamins from a “friendship salad” can provide a wonderful 3-dimensional and enriching part of our lives.
So having a true FRIEND is a wonderful thing, but we’d all be losing out if all we had were true friends. We need in our lives “Friends” and “friends” of all colours and stripes. Don’t miss out on this because small relationships seem unimportant. Invest in the small relationships as well as the big. You just never know when the small may turn out to be very, very big.
Many of my “small f” friends have been very important in my life – not least resulting in invitations to speak at an event and appear on the radio. I hope I give back in friendship as good as I get – both big, small and everything in between.