That’s What Friends are For

This is a little embarrassing to admit, but I don’t really have a best friend.

Growing up I had a few close girlfriends, but being stuck in school with hundreds of other people my age made that easy. You were pretty much forced to hang out and things like work and adult responsibilities never got in the way.

Fast-forward a decade or two, add in a heap of depression/isolation, less exposure to people my age and those pesky adult responsibilities, and friends became less of a thing. This is my fault—no excuses—and most of the time I’m okay with all that.

But then there are times when I’m not.

And it’s those times that I maintain that blogging has saved my life a million times over. I try to steer the direction of this blog away from “serious” things now—this will resume my next post—but there was a time when it served a much differentpurpose. Instead of staying inside my head—not always a safe place to be—I  allowed myself to be honest and vulnerable at times and created some of the strongest personal connections I’ve ever had.

That brings me to my point 200 words later.

 

I admit that for a long time I was embarrassed about the fact that I had so many close online friendships. I would differentiate between “online friends” and “friends” when talking with people, but then I thought, what the hell?

After all, we now live in a time when we have the opportunity to choose the people we want to surround us not by location or luck, but by similar interests, senses of humor, struggles and successes.

So much goes on behind the scenes of a blog or a website that never goes public—a sick child or spouse, a lost job, a mental breakdown that leaves you panicked and impulsively searching for any way to self-destruct (hypothetically speaking, of course.) But there are people online to remind you that even if you’re physically sitting alone, you never have to feel lonely.

If that’s not a friend, then what is?

And just because the people who “get” you might not be the people you see all that much, that doesn’t make the friendship less real.

 

True, the fact that I  feel like everyone who “gets” me lives thousands of miles away bums me out sometimes. But even though we might be spread wide geographically, I’m still closer to them than anyone I went to school with—by about a million miles.

They support. They entertain. They listen. They can talk you off the ledge that you’re on, knowing they’ve stood there before.

Because after all, that’s what friends are for.

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45 responses to “That’s What Friends are For

  1. Yep. But I’m so thankful I found you in the virtual world, because it’s a REAL friendship.

  2. Well said, Abby! I’m in the same situation- know all kinds of people online but have not made many friends where I live. It does get lonely.

  3. Ahh, loneliness, my old friend. But then I found people like Abby and her issues, and the world suddenly felt a little less vast….:)

  4. I just did a vlog on this topic for the vlogging project I’m doing, and what I ended up up saying there was pretty much that I don’t make distinctions between online friends and offline friends anymore because there’s just so much overlap between the two realms.

    Sure, there are some online friends I have that the likelihood of us getting to meet in person is fairly slim because they live in a part of the world that I’m not likely to visit, and sure there are a few offline friends that I have that are not into communicating via the Internet…. but most people I know are a mix at this point. There are people I’ve met offline that I talk to mostly online. There are people I met online that I hang out with in person or travel to go hang out with. In the end, it’s just a communication tool… Just like using the phone or sending a letter in the mail or making mouth noises in someone’s face.

  5. I hear ya!

    I have many acquaintances. Many are almost close, many aren’t. I guess that’s why I call them acquaintances. Often times I’ve had people tell me they were REAL friends, but I would know better than to call them if i were in a situation where I was allowed but one call.

    I have Leonard who could be that one call, but chances are if I were in such a situation it would be on his account. Then that leaves me with my mother, and my sisters, who are all in a different time zone, area code, zip code and country. So that leaves me with people I would need to pay for the right to talk to.

    That’s what friends are for – so you don’t have to pay for an ear to listen to your sorrows, and any other needed body parts…

  6. so many of my dearest friends are so many miles from me – including YOU.

    a week ago you showed me just how valuable friendships can be – you have shown me many times before that, but last week was overwhelmingly beautiful (I *just* took a break from compiling contact info for 26 wonderful people… and this is the first thing I see).

    we gravitate to those who have shared interests, who are like us, and because of that they quickly become close friends. you hurt for their hurts, you celebrate their successes.

    I feel incredibly lucky to have people like you to call friends. so many have stuck by me this last year – when I have had so much going on that I cannot always keep up with THEIR lives. true friends that are there for you no matter what. extraordinary.

    XXO

  7. I don’t think of the friends I’ve made from blogging as anything less than that. My real friends. Honestly, who could I share my craziness with other than you guys and still be accepted?

  8. I wish I could say I had some close friends. As you said, though, those pesky adult responsibilities get in the way. Or maybe I am just making excuses. Who knows?

  9. I always had two best friends. Had to lose one (long story) so I’m glad I had a spare.

  10. I know.

    I think the advantage our blog friends have is that they read our words and connect on a heart-level. (sounds dorky but I swear it is true) xo

  11. Friends I communicate with via text or FB chat joke that we wouldn’t know how to actually talk if we were in the same room together.

  12. This. All of this. Exactly.

    I struggle with this. I feel like I have multiple personalities because I keep my blogging life and “real” life separate. However, I feel like my blogging life and friends are more real than anything in my non-virtual world. I have much closer friends from the blogosphere than those I can reach out and touch. It’s frustrating, at times, because most of my closest friends are online and all I can do is type to them. But I’ve shared more about myself and my real life on my blog than I have to those I see every day.

    And I hear you about the blog saving your life. I am right there with you. Breakdowns are much easier when you can share it with a bunch of faceless strangers online. ;)

  13. Abby! Marvy post! In less than a year, I have made more and perhaps better friends than all my previous years. It may be that through the internet I have been able to seek and find like minded people and have them comment on our blog. It is much like online dating, but for friendships. Whatever the case, the online community has been stellar and ultra-helpful whether or not they know it.

  14. I can relate… I don’t really have any friends at all in “real life.” Most of the people I feel I connect with are through blogs or on Facebook, including people I have maybe met in real life but never got to know outside of the Internet. The Internet is a lifesaver when it comes to loneliness… but I still wish I had friends to actually hang out with!

    • Exactly. I just kind of want all my Internet friends to move to Michigan so I can hang out with them, although I’m sure I would probably find some way to avoid that actually happening if given the chance. I am a piece of work…

  15. I loved this writing, Abby. I think that meeting people online over the past year has put me in touch with many like-minded people. I think that, in many ways, connecting with people online has restored my like for humans.

    And your book is really, really cracking me up! I am loving it!!! I now know that I will never bring home nuns from the nursing home for my turkey dinner!

  16. I loved this post. I think your definition of “friend” is spot on,. being someone who is very lonely and with no close friends or family you have given me something to consider in terms of reaching out to broader community. I thank you for that. As well as speaking for those of us who are lonely and depressed. You have responded to me off post previously and I think you for that also. while I doubt it is true, I hope you take as good of care of yourself as you do of others. do take care.

    • Hey Jacqui,
      I think in terms of being lonely and depressed, it is true that keeping secrets keeps you sick. I hate that, as when you want to isolate that’s the last thing you want to hear, but it’s true. Reaching out in any capacity-online or off-is so important. I know I don’t do it near often enough, but when I do, it’s nice to know there are others out there who can relate. Feel free to email me any time!

  17. re not having a best friend, I also don’t have one. I only have a few friends and I refer to them as my close friends out of being fair to everyone, lol!

  18. Perfectly written. I have one friend who is an hour away and another who is 3 hours away. After that… They are states away, and fall under what most would call “online” friends, but they are closer to me than anyone else in my life!

  19. I agree its weird how you can feel so ‘in tune’ on many levels with people you have never met, as a result of the internet. I could not say I was your friend, because that would be presumptive, but you ‘get me’ and that is the heart of friendship isn’t it. You are a valued connection. Is that stuffy enough for a Brit, and just to scare you xxx

  20. Absolutely agree! Technology has truly redefined what we think of as a friend. For all the pitfalls of being online, there are some terrific rewards. I’ve made some real friends online and have been fortunate enough to then meet them in person while traveling. Hoping one of these days I get to Michigan!

  21. I learned a while ago that defining a friendship strictly by how much time you spend/have spent together is a wonderful way to make yourself miserable. While I’ve never “met” an online friend (though I did meet my husband on the internets) in person, there are those (like you) who I feel more like “myself” around than a bunch of other people in “physical space”. Maybe a part of that is that I express myself waaaaay better in writing than I do in person, but also just because the sheer size of the internet – compared to say, a tiny army town! – makes it so much easier to find people you relate to and don’t want to punch in the face (you couldn’t even if you tried!)

  22. We are friends that met online, but I consider us real life friends :)

  23. Wow that is such a different to take on friendships online. I for one feel I’ve been lost in my myriad thoughts and perceived them as always something which is part of the 21st century culture, nothing more than bunch of people looking for validation through the cyber space. And boy was I wrong, I committed the most amateurish mistake and rambled on such a social media. I was very pleasantly surprised though, people did give a s**t. Suddenly I wasn’t alone (though I was in the physical sense) I soon had people from across the seven seas thanking me and commenting. I got my dialogue up and running and I discovered pleasure that I never thought was possible. Thanks for your blog, we are certainly never alone. There is always someone, not physically but not too far and just enough to give you the bump that you always needed to find things inside that you never thought existed.

  24. Thanks for taking a day off from your usual and letting me see your heart. I consider you and your mom friends even though we’ve never met. Earlier this year I got to meet a few people I’ve known just online. There was no awkwardness and it’s was as if we’d gotten together in the same room millions of times. I know that would be the case with us.

    Go Braves

    although Miggy Cabrera is amazing

  25. This is so true, Abby. I find myself doing exactly what you described, differentiating between online friends and face-to-face friends, especially to my face-to-face friends, and it’s exhausting–and pointless–when they’re all just FRIENDS. I’m sick of sounding apologetic about how I’ve met certain people or about the fact that I’ve never sat on the same couch with them or across the table from them, as if that’s what constitutes a friend. Oh, and thanks for putting Dion Warwick’s voice in my head for the rest of the day.

  26. I’m new to blogging and don’t have any friends online yet. I find that often people in my life who I refer to as friends are just people who I got smooshed together with . . . a woman who married my college buddy, a parent of my daughter’s playmate, etc. Frequently I realize that I don’t particularly like some of these people. Sometimes they do something helpful for me, or me for them. It’s not a genuine friendship. Those relationships don’t take away feelings of loneliness, in fact sometimes they exacerbate those feelings. Having people who truly get you and know how you honestly feel, that is MUCH more valuable! Nice to hear that you & several others here are not allowing other people to define their relationships. : )

    • Great comment, and I have no doubt that you will find some online people to “smoosh” with by choice and not chance ;) I feel the same exact way.

  27. Exactly, Abby.

    Blogging has saved my life too, many times. And I consider my blog friends, MY REAL FRIENDS. Mostly because y’all have gotten me through the toughest of times in my life. I am lucky to be surrounded by so many supportive people, like YOU.

  28. And all of us who can totally relate are all wishing you were our best friend.

  29. Loved this, and you are now (whether you like it or not) my new friend-girl-crush. I’m not heading to Michigan any time soon, so no restraining order required.

  30. I get this post in a profound way. I don’t have a lot of really close friends who I’m completely open and honest with, and certainly not many who live close by. I find myself more open in my blog and therefore have a stronger connection to people I’ve never even met before and maybe never will. The Internet can really be a wonderful thing. Also kinda creepy sometimes but let’s ignore that part for now.

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