What I Learnt in 2013 about…FRIENDSHIP

l2“Only share your story with the people who have earned the right to hear it.”

Dr Brené Brown

It’s been on my heart for a long time to just write about friendship. I don’t think people realise the impact great, good, mediocre, mean [insert your own adjective] friends can actually have on our lives.

A few years ago I met a lovely lady who introduced me to Friendship Circles. I have always sketched, written, mind-mapped my thoughts and ideas… but this was the first time that I had heard of it.

I had told her how, at the time, I was overwhelmed by how many “friends” I had, and also just how much time I was spending with absolutely everybody.

I was also overwhelmed by how the thoughts of those who weren’t really my friends caused me more stress than what my Mama thought. And lo and behold, every time I called my Mama she would be absolutely supportive, kind and wonderful about the crisis I was going through. And then I’d be fine. Go figure!

Anyhow, this lady explained the circles to me and I have found them very helpful ever since.  I now hope my writings inspire you to reflect on your own friendship circles, especially before 2014 starts.

What are Friendship Circles?

Friendship circles are a simple way (stacked Venn diagram, if we need to get technical) of grouping the friends in your life.

Quick notes:

  • The SMALLER the circle, the MORE time, energy, (and patience) you should invest into those relationships.
  • The SMALLER the circle, the LESS people you should have in there.
  • The SMALLER the circle, the MORE accountable you should be for your half of the relationship.
  • The LARGER the circle, the MORE guarded you should be with what you share with them.
  • The LARGER the circle, the MORE you have to rely on your gift of discernment and gut instinct when relating to people. (Sadly sometimes not-so-lovely people can be wolves in sheep’s clothing).

Here are my circles…

Circle 1 (C1)

God lives here, and I live here with Him. He is my one true friend even if all the other circles ever disappear. I, Taku, am also my own friend. I look out for myself, I consider my needs, I make myself laugh and I absolute enjoy spending time with myself.

The friendships in the other circles wholly depend on those in C1. And this year C1 was in amazing bestie, bosom buddy mode THE WHOLE year!

Amazingly enough, I get along the most with people who have solid C1 friendships. (Whether they have God, Buddha, Allah or just themselves in there). In essence, they are just fine with themselves and completely comfortable in their own skins. They really know their boundaries.

What makes you a C1 friend?

  • Do you take time out from the world to reflect on your life?
  • Do you do things that you want to do, or are you always doing things for/with others?
  • Do you stand up for yourself?
  • Do you value your time?

Circle 2 (C2)

Yes they are my family, but they are also my beautiful friends. In fact some of my best friends. My Mother is the best friend anyone could ever ask for – I love how there is no judgement, there is constant support and the laughter never ends. It’s just amazing and I am proud to call her my friend.

My brothers are the brightest young men I know. They entertain me with their stories, talents and life experiences. There really are no reservations and sometimes I have to pretend to wear the big sister hat when they get a little carried away! They are also the best counsellors for when I am feeling homesick.

My baby sister – sigh. My gorgeous, princess diva. Though I am 19 years older than her. I love that she can talk to me about anything, and she knows I am always there for her. I can’t wait for her to grow up so we can share proper goss!

And now onto my move-a-body friends. These are described by Dr Brené Brown as the friends you could call at any time of the night to help you move your drunken Mother off the couch and into bed…and they would not judge you or bat an eyelid. Your friendship would carry on as normal. (FYI, that’s Brené’s example :))

My move-a-body friends ARE my family. They continue to open my eyes in so many phenomenal ways.

I am planning to write a separate post about love, but I really have to say here that 2013 is the year I fell in love with my C2 friends. Yes, fell in love. It wasn’t enough to just love them. I fell in love with who they are in all their glory – often I would be out with them and stare at them wistfully, hold their hands, smother them with cuddles and annoy them with “I love you”. (Or maybe I’ve been single for too long). But seriously, I love how they really were there for me during my lows and my highs!

My core C2 friends haven’t changed much over the last few years. Some have been in there for my whole life. Some have recently come into my life but their love and friendship has catapulted them into my heart.

My C2 friends also teach me how to be a C2 friend in return. I make more time for them, I reciprocate their love, their gestures, their thoughtfulness, their generosity, their patience, their understanding, their joy. And simply doing that makes me a better person.

To my C2s…I love you more than beans!

What makes a C2 friend?

  • If you bought a tropical island, who would you want on that first flight there with you?
  • In fact, who would you call first to tell you have bought a tropical island?
  • Which of your friends simply make your heart smile when you are with them? No judgement, no weirdness, no meanness, no gossip – just joy, friendship and laughter.
  • Who do you really call for your emotional and financial emergencies?

Circle 3 (C3)

These are the close friends who are special for so many different reasons. They have shared a part of my story and we connect on some level e.g. we often have one or two things in common. In 2013, some of my C2s bumped down to C3s, and some of my C3s jumped to C2s. To be honest the boundary can be a little hazy but I always let my gut instinct guide me. It’s a clichéd fact that some friends are around for certain seasons and reasons…and the great thing about C3s is that the friendship is still there even if we don’t always catch up. I am their C3 friend too, so that definitely eases the pressure.

What makes a C3 friend?

  • If you were spontaneously getting married tomorrow, who would you invite knowing they’d just be there?
  • Do you trust them not to sell your stories to the tabloids? (Hahaha)
  • Do you make contact at least once every couple of months?

Circle 4 (C4)

Ahhhh C4…the love is definitely there, but “life has been so busy” and “we must catch up sometime” live here too. And then we just don’t get to. The great thing is that there is no animosity, because we both know we’re not each other’s C2 or C3…and it’s good without being weird.

A select few might even get an invite to that spontaneous wedding.

What makes a C4 friend?

  • When was the last time you called or saw them?
  • If you bumped into them on the street, would it be weird?
  • Does the friendship feel a little one-sided?

Circle 5 (C5)

Everyone is my friend! This includes work friends, Facebook friends, business colleagues, some of the people I meet when I travel, that old lady at the bus-stop etc.

Now, to be fair, friends in C5 are still important and I am still genuine in my friendship with them. I just know how much I can share with them and them with me. I don’t feel comfortable sharing my deep thoughts and feelings with my C5s the way I would with God/myself in C1 or family in C2. And that is perfectly ok and normal.

In 2013, sadly some of my friends bumped down from C2 to C5. That was painful but perhaps that’ll be fodder for another post. Thankfully having C1 and the other C2s always keeps things in perspective.

What makes a C5 friend?

  • Would you have them on speed-dial for an emotional or financial emergency?
  • How would you really feel if they knew one of your deepest, darkest secrets?
  • Have they seen you cry?

Now what?

When you are next free, draw up your own friendship circles, and actually write the names of your friends in the relevant places. Move them around and see how it feels. Perhaps it’s time to be honest with yourself.

I bet you have one or two friends you have been sitting on the fence about. I sure did this year – and still do. These circles will keep changing with us for a long while yet!

Love you all (yes, really!)

By Taku

© Taku Scrutton 2014. All Rights Reserved.

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