Friendships to Make
BY JEAN MARIE JOHNSON
“Friends are the family you choose.” Jess C Scott, 2013
Out of nowhere, this showed up: Hey, I’ve been thinking of you.
I was both delighted and surprised when this awesome woman reached out to me. On the surface, we had little in common: she was quite a bit younger, raising children and chickens, strong religious affiliation, and so on. And yet, as we came to discover through our pre-COVID era book club, we shared a fearless interest in unraveling stories, including the complicated stories of our own lives. Fast forward, and we are friends.
Female friendships have always been integral to my life and my sense of well-being. Looking back, I see a brilliant, diverse tapestry of sameness and difference, of constant, core threads, outliers who mix things up, and yes, a few frayed and abandoned threads of friendship as well. My tapestry is uniquely my own and unlike any other. As with all things, it is perfectly-imperfect, a thing that evolves, contracts, and expands again. Meandering in this rich landscape, I am considering the types of friendships we women develop and why.
Many Types of Friends
Our kaleidoscope of friendship is rich and varied. Consider:
The friend from way back
She’s the one who walked an early path with you. She knows things about you that are formative and significant. With her, you easily revisit a chapter or chapters, remembering details that mark shared experiences.
The soul mate
She’s the one who “gets you” from a deep place. Your bond isn’t forged by length of time or shared experiences, necessarily. With her, you share a connection that makes vulnerability and understanding easy.
The wise woman friend
She’s the one you turn to when you are looking for support and especially input. You trust her knowing-self and tap in there when you need to. With her, you know you’ll get through it.
The “I’ll be right there” friend
She’s the one who drops everything to have your back, whether that’s with the proverbial cup of sugar or rushing your pet to the vet in an emergency. With her, you know that there will be no questions asked when she arrives, “at the ready.”
The shared experience friend
She’s the one you know and associate with a particular time and place. You share a story or at least part of one. With her, you revisit experiences from the past or create them together in the here and now.
The crazy lady friend
You know who I’m talking about! She’s the one who brings the lightness, levity, and spontaneity that balances your pedal to the metal focus.
Friendship is Essential
Need further proof of the priceless nature of female friendship? Consider that psychologist Breanna Jayne Sada contends that having female friends is “incredibly important” for our mental health. She cites these five reasons why female friendships support our well-being:
- Women “get each other” emotionally
- They offer us a fresh, female perspective
- Will tell us the truth, and,
- They generally “age well” over the course of time.
And it’s not just your mental health that benefits. A study reported in the Journal of Clinical Oncology found that women with early-stage breast cancer were four times more likely to die from cancer if they had few friends. Those with a larger group of friends with early-stage breast cancer had a much better survival rate.
We don’t need a global pandemic to remind us of the importance of the female bonds we forge. But maybe, just maybe, this “reminder” jolted you to reach out with a “Hey, I’ve been thinking of you” message.