Make New Friends and Keep the Old

I have just spent an entire long weekend in bliss. Picture this: A small, slightly run-down lake resort with a grand total of 15 campsites and 4 cabins huddled at one end of a small lake surrounded by hills, forest, farms, fields, and cattails. Add to this peaceful spot in northeastern Washington state a tribe of 12 women ranging in age from 27 to 66 gathering for a weekend of unconditional love and acceptance, fresh air, nature, campfires, creative projects, food, and laughter (so much food and laughter!), as well as a few days of freedom from our everyday lives.

Several of these women have known one another since their teen years, while some are novice members to the tribe and others have been a part of the group for decades. This annual gathering is an inoculation from the craziness of the world we live in, the daily stresses of varied lives we lead—and a reminder of our right to celebrate our individual womanhood. I believe it’s vital to the success of all our relationships, from our friendships, to our marriages, to our children and families, to our careers. This is the twelfth edition of our annual event. This is bliss.

How do we make it from one year to the next between these amazingly relaxing and fun getaways? We play Bunko every month. What could you and your friends do to stay connected?

When I share the joys of our very longstanding friendship with others, the response usually is, “I wish I had a group of friends like that.”

I’m here to tell you that you can, but you must be willing to put yourself in a space to create such relationships. They don’t just happen. You have to grow them. You have to be brave enough to reach out to those you meet who give you the feeling of, “Hey, I like you. We could be friends.” You have to make the effort to stay in touch with people you already know so that you can get to know them better.

How many of your old BFFs from high school or college are you still in touch with? Growing up is hard, and most of us do some pretty unwise things along the way. Often, it’s our friends who help us get through some of our bad situations—and years later, we wonder how we could have managed if not for that one friend who was there for you. There are, most likely, one or two friends who were there for you when you no one else was.

I know that Facebook and other social media platforms give us the ability to reach out to old friends or have them find us out of the blue or from a high school reunion post or from another friend’s post. Of course, there’s always texting to help us stay in touch, but how much valuable content is there in a short text message with half the letters missing and a limited number of characters? How much do you really know about how a friend is doing from an animated emoji?

As young mothers, we were connected by a long curly phone cord as we actually talked for hours to our girlfriends while washing dishes, doing laundry, or diapering a baby. That’s how we built the familiarity that is required to develop strong, meaningful friendships.

I would tell young women of today—all women, for that matter—to value their female friendships as the precious gifts they are. Cultivate them. Pamper them. Make them a promised part of your life. Please don’t fool yourself by saying you‘re too busy for friendships like ours, which take time and togetherness to build! You have time for the things you choose to have time for. Saying you’re too busy is a bullshit cop-out. We’re all busy, but we still choose what we do with our allotted 24 hours.

Our world is so much in need of love and healing. I can think of no better place to start than with truthful and loving relationships with other women to show the world the way to healing itself. My tribe, my Bunko friends, create a community that includes the people we touch, in the way we treat them and the examples we set. Our joy and contentment in the love and security of our tribe can be one part of the healing we all pray will come soon.

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About the Author | Jackie McDaniels

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4 comments to "Make New Friends and Keep the Old"

  • Lori Mouser

    Well said sister!
    Friends are the fabric of our lives. The blanket that keeps us warm.
    I’m so glad you shared your connectedness to your tribe.

  • Naomi Karsudjono

    Thank you for sharing!
    This makes me want to send a gift to my bestfriend since kindergarten… we still text often and see each other once a year, gifts are second best to being together in person.
    Cheers to friedship!

    • Jackie

      Thank you for your comment. I am blessed to have a friend I have known all my life as our mothers were friends before we were born. Our lives went in totally different directions but we have managed to stay in touch throughout the years. That friendship is one of my most treasured gifts in life.

  • Inga Wismer

    Great writing, Jackie! I totally agree with your sentiment–friendships and relationships are what makes our lives meaningful. It certainly takes an effort and people do grow apart because of the distance and the different life stages but just staying in touch with old friends gives you a sense of belonging because know your story and who you are. New friends are good too because your interests change throughout life.