Being a person who chooses to relate deeply instead of superficially, I have always been able to count my friends on my fingers. And I never found the numbers insufficient –a case of quality over quantity.
I have been able to form good friendship with a few like-minded people in each part of my social circle – school, college, work (and ex-work places) , neighbourhood, extended family circle, etc. Thanks to FaceBook, it also has been easier to be in touch with these people.
It was when I moved outside the country, after leaving my work, and as a trailing spouse that I was suddenly lost. With a small baby in tow, and being a stay-at-home mother in another land to boot, making friends was a tough task. Add to that, we elected to stay a bit outside the city, where normally most expats stay. Imagine having a phone but nobody to call on, that is a sort of loneliness indescribable. Being shy and on the introvert spectrum adds to the challenge too.
Truly speaking, my baby was my best friend then and my whole day revolved around her. Later on, more for her sake than mine, I looked around at making friends with moms for possible play-dates. Again, each and every time I have been lucky that people turned up in my life, some being kindred spirits, looking for the same things as me, having interesting acclimatization experiences to share and time we spent together as play-date moms was as enjoyable for us as for our 1 year olds.
As my friendship destiny has it, each friendship comes with a sort of : best before date, and couple of occasions we’ave had friends whom we were slowly warming up to, packing their bags and moving to far flung corners of the world, and without a lot of prior warning. A couple remain of the strictly practical nature where the wick burns strictly proportional to the oil you pour and how often you do it (read meetings only on lunch and dinner invites only).
When my kids joined school, I suddenly met more people, a couple of desi ones too and we struck a beginners friendship of sorts. Aunty M, Aunty S, Aunty D are now familiar with the kids and their visits home awaited. Friendships like other relationships is hard work. And more than anything also a function of mutual reciprocity. Boundaries and pace of relating, mutual respect, suspension of judgement, restraint, are equally important elements of an adult relationship. Sometimes when the mix gets too much of one element and too little of another, things can go wrong.
Since our move, I’ve been experiencing this with one such friendship. My daughter asked me why Aunty M does not call or visit. I have told her the following but it may be a bit too deep for a 7-year old, actually a bit cynical. But certainly I am no authority to write a report on ‘ The art of making friends ‘, here you go –
- We think differently on a few things, so we’re not meeting up for a while till we both think good over it and are ready to talk. It is perfectly fine to think differently from your friend and be honest about it.
- You must never allow anyone to say something mean about your family, never. If they do that, tell them they are wrong, and they ought to apologize. Because no one knows everything about you. Family first and crossing a personal line is unacceptable.
- Likewise, you never tell them anything mean to their face just to spite. Take the higher ground, however provoked you are. It is difficult to take back mean words.
- If you are wrong, say sorry, it does not mean losing face. We all do some wrong things at some point of time.
- Don’t try too hard to be friends with anyone. Good friends do come into your life unexpectedly. All you need to be is a good friend.
- If you see someone sitting alone, go and say hello, smile. It may just be the friend you are looking for.
Vibha, aka Chatty Wren, is a full-time mother to two delightful little girls. She blogs at http://wrenwarbles.blogspot.com about her life with her little ones, ups and downs of living in a foreign country and anything else that catches her fancy.