(Once again, sorry for the delays between postings. Life. If interested and if you’re not already there I have been sending out 7 Takeaways every week. Generally not my writing, but I do share some thoughts on each takeaway I collect.)
A friend is dealing with one of life’s issues, to put it vaguely. It’s led me to notice our friends and acquaintances often fall into two categories. It’s important to acknowledge them.
When I hear a friend is struggling with something, my response is either of two things:
- If they need me, I’m there. No questions. No delays. The rest of my life reorganizes itself around this.
- I hope, to varying degrees, they don’t ask for help.
I feel somewhat guilty about the last one, but it’s real. I see it as a reflection of hopefully healthy boundaries. We can’t jump when just anyone says “ouch”. We have to be selective for our own sanity.
It’s interesting that both friends and acquaintances might qualify for either response.
You might think that in order to have that “drop everything” kind of response, you’d need to be a particularly close friend. As I consider the various people in my life, I realize that’s not always true. There are casual friends and acquaintances for whom I’d still respond without hesitation.
Similarly, there are close friends that, for a variety of reasons, I might not. It doesn’t mean they’re not important to me, or that they’re not truly a close friend. It just means that, for one reason or another . . . I just can’t.
The boundary is fluid. People come and go — be it the closest of friends, or the most casual of acquaintances — and so too does the “drop everything” response.
I’ve spoken before about friends and acquaintances I’ve called “drama magnets“. Through no fault of their own life throws them more curveballs than seems fair. Or those friends unwilling to help themselves. It can become hard, over time, to drop everything for them again and again.
But it’s also not terribly uncommon to encounter someone who quickly becomes someone for whom you’d make the extra effort. Who they are might resonate with you in a strong way even before you might ever call them a close friend.
What to do with this realization?
One: gratitude. Appreciate the fact there are people in your life for whom you would drop everything. These are clearly special people in your life, and worth acknowledging, even if only to yourself.
Two: more gratitude. Know that you are probably someone else’s “drop everything” friend. Do your best to be worthy. Accept their help when the time comes, just as you’d hope your friends would accept yours.
Maybe you’ll never need their help. Maybe they’ll never need yours.
But it’s a special friendship nonetheless.