How to develop your friendship network. (Or, staying positive while depressed)
All cheers to positive writing, while depressed. Let’s turn this mood around baby, by focusing on something I know for sure is a true skill.
I am good at making friends. I made a new special friend this week in fact. We had been sort-of-friends for a few years, through my Second Hubby. But this week we met alone over tea and tears and now I have someone to add to my special friendship circle. My new friend (GP) recently lost her partner of 17 years, who traveled with her all around South Africa in her double-cab while she wrote her travel blog.
GP’s partner was a dog, but in this case, that really doesn’t matter. They were closer than any couple I know of, with no separate-time to speak of. I am not a pet person, but was fully able to relate and sympathise when I put my ‘lost my life partner’ hat on. And GP was fully able to empathise with me, having dealt with depression herself, and being clued up on psychiatry. So we wept and wailed and talked and shared our pain. GP also came up with some grand observations for me, which helped.
So, my other general talents are mostly mediocre, to which I add effort and hard work and therefore enjoy some success. But making friends is a skill I learnt early – I would say in my teens – and now comes easily. There are some basics I would like to share with you. I think friends often outlive family and partners, so I encourage you to open your eyes and hearts.
- Get out of the house and into social settings. In other words, be in a good mental space. (The friends I made in hospital didn’t last, as they were built on some personality extreme or other. Also to note, our online friends are just that – on-a-line into the ether.)
- Feel the spark of interest. This requires some basic conversation. Broaden your horizons, as friendship diversity enriches your understanding of people immensely.
- Ask them about themselves. Everyone can, and often likes, to talk about themselves.
- Ask them about themselves. Don’t butt-in with your story.
- Ask them about themselves. Show even more interest than you thought possible.
- Divulge something quite personal and private about yourself. Lower the conversation barrier.
- Ask them about themselves. See if they lower their barrier too.
- Decide for sure this is worth your ongoing investment.
- Hopefully you get to see them again to repeat the above.
Now here is the trick – stay in contact. I am bloody fantastic at this. I have circles of friends (inner, middle-inner, middle and so on). I haven’t actually categorised them (where you about to log off?), but I know that some are closer than others and I know where to invest my time. But no-one gets left behind.
Even the friends I make in hospital when in a mixed episode, who should be in the not-really-a friend circle, could get a text message from me on leaving hospital, or we meet for coffee. That’s the investment I am talking about – short dips of your time. And now it’s so easy with various social platforms too!
I often put in more effort than others, and I don’t mind. I see my efforts like a ‘poke’ on Facebook. For example, I have no problem trying to organise the same group of girlfriends for a get together four times in one year, and only getting it right the last time. Because it’s worth it. And if someone eventually becomes outer-circle friends naturally, that’s fine too. Some of my old club-party scene friends lost all gravitational pull and floated off altogether.
But my Bestie and my inner circle get something special – because it’s such a positive feedback loop and the longer the relationship holds, the bigger the mirror is that tells me – yes, I hear you, I see you, you exist, and you matter. And I do the same for them.
As I write this and remind myself of a skill where I flourish, I become more intrigued to see where my friendship with GP leads.
And I wish you many happy and solid friendships, and all sorts of other-kinds of friendships.