Perhaps this doesn’t apply to everyone. Perhaps the extroverts, or some other personality types “get” this natively, but it’s something I wished I’d pay more attention to.
Treasure your friends.
I mean, really, understand who they are, and make an effort to be there with them and be there for them. Not out of any expectation of repayment, but just because they are your friends.
There are friends we have today for whom we would drop everything at a moment’s notice to help. Those are the friends I’m talking about.
To the extent you can, make more of those friends. I know we don’t all have the same capacity for the number of close friends we have, but that’s ok. Whatever your limit is, get closer to it.
Another thing I wish I’d understood sooner is that friends change.
I don’t mean that individuals change (though of course they do), but rather that the orbits of our lives often move in such a way that they no longer intersect. Close friends 10 years ago may just be acquaintances today. That’s ok. It’s life that changed, and not all friendships are the kind that weather all changes.
Always be on the lookout for more.
This is a hard habit, especially for us introverts. Stepping outside of our comfort zone, even for a while, to perhaps make a new acquaintance — with no expectations — is a difficult investment of time and energy. But that’s where friends come from.
If you have the privilege of living a long life, this skill will become even more important, because one price of surviving is losing those around you who do not.