A Reason, A Season or A Lifetime
The significant transitions that women in their 40's, 50's and beyond experience can be tough on those closest to us. If you're like me and have had multiple life transitions hit you all at once, it takes a special breed of friend to be there for us. To never falter. To make contact when we don't. To genuinely care about how we're doing "today" every day, week, month or year.
What makes a friendship?
In Adam Liebendorfer's column, Just Between Friends, he shares Bill Rawlins' five criteria that define friendship. "Friendship needs to be voluntary—no coercion allowed. It also needs to be affectionate. Friends must like each other. A friendship must be personal, between people, and what's more, something must put the friends on equal ground. Lastly, a friendship is mutual."
We learn from Liebendorfer that we engage cautiously at first, keeping to safe subjects and identifiable roles. In the course of conversation, we may share complaints or interests thus realizing where we are alike and how a foundation of friendship may be built. On this path, the relationship progresses through conversation, sharing personal information, spending time together, and developing routines, intimacy and trust. The cautious engagement becomes meaningful. A genuine friendship.
It's these geniune friendships that are so critical when our lives take an unfortunate turn or two or more and we are in need of support… even if we aren't seeking it. The profound friendships that we build, whether new or lifelong, become the solid ground upon which we may stand when everything else around us is failing. And as I've said before, when multiple and major transitions descend at once, "on-your-own" is the toughest position to be in. Don't isolate!
Time and friendships
I've always been told that people come into our lives for "a reason, a season or a lifetime." Meaningful friendships aren't about the amount of time we spend being friends, but the quality of that friendship during the time that we share it.
At a time in my life when I was struggling financially, it was a group of my friends that helped me through. And while we weren't close for long that does not diminish the impact on my life and appreciation I have for their friendship when I needed it. They were in my life for a reason.
Most of my longtime, but not lifetime, work friends with whom I dined, talked, shopped, laughed and texted at all hours, are no longer in my life. But I shared wonderful experiences with these amazing women that I will never forget. They enriched my life for a season.
As a child, I had the good fortune to meet my dearest friend, my essential person, my confidant. Regardless of the passage of time, changes in our relationships, work, location, habits, health, whatever, we remain the best of friends. We are a lifetime.
However true the flow of friendships in and out of our lives may be, this simple explanation cannot be as simply applied today. With the onslaught of social and professional media sites, friends for a reason and friends for a season may yet find their way into our lives again. Today, we can revisit those meaningful friendships and they can revisit us when we need them most.
Transition and friendships
In May of 2015, Ted Talk filmed A Hilarious Celebration of Lifelong Friendship with Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda. During the interview, Jane Fonda shared, "I don't know what I would do without my friends. I have my friends, therefore I am." She went on to say, "It's true. I exist because I have my women friends. They make me stronger. They make me smarter. They make me braver. They tap me on the shoulder when I might be in need of course correcting."
Unlike the generations of women before us, women approaching and over 50 have unprecedented access to support from friends during times of transition. Those reason and season friends are all too willing to reminisce and be in contact… to be a friend when friendship is needed. To empathize with what we're going through, have gone through and may go through in the future. They may re-enter our lives and lift us up on concert with our lifelong friends. Today, we have less reason than ever before to go through any though transition alone and every reason, with ease of access, to reach out in many directions.
When we are in transition, genuine friendships are vital. They prevent us from isolating and improve our lives. They are a reflection of the truth about who we are and how we're really doing. An authentic friend isn't going to mince words, fill us with false hope, peddle delusions of grandeur, belittle what we're going through or otherwise let us down. They are an extension of ourselves and give us the strength and often guidance we need to keep going.
If you're experiencing one or more tough life transitions, let your friends help you.
To share your experience, join Leaping the Chasm online: @leapingthechasm on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Mogul and Pinterest.
Take the A Reason, A Season or A Lifetime reader poll now.
About Leaping the Chasm
Leaping the Chasm™ (LTC) provides candid conversations and social media engagement for women in their 40's, 50's and beyond who are undergoing the personal, physical, financial, education and employment transitions that often accompany mid-life. LTC shares experiences, transfers knowledge, improves outlook, connects people, and helps identify opportunities for this powerful demographic.