I met my best friend in eighth grade gym class. She was pulling on a sweatshirt to head outside for field hockey, when it caught on her braces and she couldn’t release it. As all the other girls rushed out of the locker room to avoid being marked late, I stopped to free her. I’ve been richly rewarded for that one tiny gesture. Our friendship has been one of the greatest gifts in my life for over…well, a long time.
Not everyone we meet becomes our best friend, of course, but we should always be open to the possibility of connecting with someone new. When my kids were very young, I’d take them to the park or the beach and as soon as I’d get settled comfortably on the bench or chair with a good book, they’d run over, yelling, “Mommy, let’s play chase” or “Let’s dig to China” or something similar. Sometimes I’d oblige but often I’d encourage them to “Make a friend” – and off they’d run to find someone, so confident that every child there would be equally open to the possibility. We lose that openness along the way.
I read a great quote from Dale Carnegie the other day and it’s given me much to think about:
“You can make more friends in two months by becoming more interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you”
So true! Often we rush around with our heads down or are so concerned about the impression we’re making on others to focus on what’s really important – truly opening ourselves to a meaningful relationship. It sounds a bit dramatic, but those few seconds in the eighth-grade locker room changed my life.
My friend has seen me through every personal and professional high and low since middle school – and I hope I’ve returned the favor. Having a small, core group of trusted friends you can rely on is important So I’m going to take my own advice and “Make a friend” more often…and call my old ones.