Meeting new people is kind of my specialty. In 28 years, I’ve lived in eight cities, attended six schools, and worked in four different offices for three different companies, to say nothing of the countless college internships, summer camps, and corporate networking events.
From my elementary school best friend to my favorite coworker, my life is full of the friends I’ve collected along the way. Some have been around for 15 years, while others are recent connections. Some live within walking distance, and others are several time zones and plane rides away. Some are married with children and mortgages, while others more closely align with my rootless, childfree lifestyle. I’m lucky enough to have these kind of people in my life, and I hope you are too. These are the friends I believe every successful woman deserves to have:
1. The one who knew you when. One of my oldest friendships dates back to the fifth grade. If someone’s known you since you were 11 and they’re still around, they’re worth keeping for life. They’re also probably full of stories about your celebrity crushes, first loves, and boy band obsession. (If you happen to be my friend since fifth grade, you also have photo albums full of my fashion photo shoots and unfortunate hairstyles.)
2. The one who’s up for anything. I’ve lived in Portland for just over a year, and I still struggle with feeling like I’m not exploring my new home as much as I should. Having a friend who can serve as my adventure wing woman comes in handy when I’m working up the courage to try something new. Knowing I have friends who are interested in new experiences means I’m more likely to go see a show that’s in town, check out a new fitness studio, or take a day-long road trip to the coast just because I can.
3. The one who’s been there, done that. As a kid, I always needed to experience something for myself before I could learn whichever lesson my parents were desperately trying to teach me at the time. (Don’t stop hanging out with your friends just because you have a boyfriend, trying a little harder in that 800-meter race will not kill you, and it’s not entirely your teacher’s fault if you get a D on your physics test are just a few examples.) As an adult, I lean heavily on friends who have already walked through the fire of what I’m going through at the time. It’s comforting to know they made it to the other side, and so will I.
4. The one who knows when (and how) to listen. Our friends are the ones we turn to when we need advice, a sounding board, or support getting through a tough time. As someone with an almost compulsive need to solve all of the problems my loved ones encounter, it’s hard for me to know when a friend just needs someone to listen to them. I appreciate my friends who do this so easily and allow me to get my feelings out without trying to fix things right away.
5. The one who looks up to you. Everyone enjoys feeling like an expert at something, and I relish any and all opportunities to impart any ~wisdom~ I’ve accumulated throughout my short life. I recently helped some friends set up a budget for the first time, and it was a really fun bonding experience to openly discuss our financial situations and future goals together.
6. The one who keeps in touch. As the friend who moves every few years, I’m well-practiced in the art of keeping in touch, except when I’m terrible at it. With all of this technology at our fingertips, you’d think there would be no excuse not to check in every once in awhile, yet busy schedules, different time zones, and sheer forgetfulness conspire against us sometimes. I’m incredibly grateful to the friends who don’t let me get away without a text or phone call for weeks or months at a time.
7. The one who hasn’t changed. We all encounter life’s milestones on a different schedule and are shaped by the lessons we learn. We grow up, our opinions change, we meet new people who impact our lives, and we reminisce on who we were ten years ago with a light-hearted eye roll and a “bless her heart” in our best southern drawl. Then we look at the friend next to us who is the exact same as she was when she was 18 — the same friends, the same interests, the same life goals — and we bask in the glory of our hard-earned progress.
8. The one who’s the opposite gender. I worship at the altar of female friendships, but there’s a dedicated space in my heart for the men as well. I gain insight into the male psyche through their dating experiences, salary negotiations, and disinterest in celebrity culture. In return, I give them gift ideas for their girlfriends, lots of pictures of my cat, and some much-needed female perspective. It’s a win-win.
9. The one who inspires you. I am often driven by external factors, and I love to surround myself with people who are doing incredible things as motivation to keep growing and challenging myself. As my friend Nicole often says, there’s an unlimited amount of success in the world; someone else’s success does not preclude you from your own. We should cheer on our friends and turn that little pang of jealousy into fuel to reach our own goals.
10. The one you’ve never met. I started blogging in early 2008 and joined Twitter a couple of months later. Living my life openly online for so many years has resulted in dozens of internet friendships. I’ve been lucky enough to take a lot of these offline, but there are still a handful of people I adore despite never meeting them in person. It’s liberating to know that there’s a soul out there who doesn’t know any of the people in your life, who doesn’t know you snort when you laugh or shove popcorn into your mouth by the fistful, and who has no stake in your life outside the friendship you have with each other.
11. The one who is completely different from you. Whether the difference is cultural, geographic, racial, or financial between friends, we have a lot to learn from each other. Understanding the lived experiences of others increases our capacity for empathy and reminds us that we all benefit from a diverse culture.
12. The one we see in the mirror. It’s cheesy as hell, but it’s important that we treat ourselves with the same grace, kindness, and understanding we extend to our friends. We have to be an advocate for ourselves, and honestly, we’re stuck with ourselves for life, so we might as well be besties.
Image via Unsplash