As a kid, friendship isn’t something I remember thinking about intentionally. Playmates and teammates happen naturally in many childhood to teen activities, which I experienced in the sports and extracurricular activities I participated in. At the same time, my siblings and cousins were big parts of my childhood. We had so many good times and now fond memories to look back on.
In college, my closest tribe (as you might say) formed naturally with my roommate, other roommates down the hall, and our honorary roommate. Through the next four years, we would switch roommates around, but stayed living with or near each other. We shared countless late nights, probably too many trips to Sonic for half-price shakes, many laughs, and more memories than I could tell in one night. I am so grateful for those years.
We split a little over a year ago at graduation, returning to several different states. And like many graduating seniors, I wondered how well we’d stay in touch and how building life and friendships all over again would work out as I transitioned into a new chapter of life. As I’ve discovered in the last year, this friendship thing is one of the hardest but also most worthwhile and beautiful things in life.
In a class at some point, we talked about three types of friendship (according to Aristotle). They are: friendship of utility, friendship of pleasure, and friendship of the good.
Those childhood friends and many college acquaintances were friendships of utility. This could be a teammate or classmate where you’re working together toward some end and need each other to accomplish that. This generally doesn’t last much longer than those activities the other person is needed for (even if you wish it wasn’t so).
A friend of pleasure might be the person you run with or share a drink with, but they’re not the one you’d call at 3am.
The deepest of friend is the person you share life with and mutually seek the good of the other. These take lots of time and intentionality, as I’ve found after college. I don’t have it figured out or have many words of wisdom for you in how to find this other than just try.
Go to events. Send the card. Text the person to check in. Schedule a video chat. Create a group chat. Make room in your schedule. Go to the event even if it’s a work night (still telling myself that one). Be the friend you want to share life with.
Friendship can be hard with our different habits, distance, and how busy we all get. But if I’ve learned anything through trial and error, it’s that friendship is worth it. We need it. We were not created to be alone or isolated. We are made in the image of God, a communion of persons, to do life with other people. It’s easier said than done, but it’s something we know we need.
Who are those friends for you? Or are you (like me) working on finding your tribe? Share your best advice for finding and maintaining friendships in the comment section.
Here’s to finding, maintaining, and intentionally growing those relationships that life wouldn’t be the same without!