Do you remember when you first joined facebook? You probably were invited by somebody you knew, and then decided to set up an account. Suddenly, you were bombarded with a flurry of ‘friend requests.’
Some of the people you probably knew well: family, close friends, coworkers. Others you hadn’t seen in years: high school friends, past career contacts, old crushes.
Just how all these people found you on Facebook was a mystery, but they did. And it was an exciting feeling to reconnect with a pile of people in a new way.
But that feeling of excitement was fleeting.
Within a year of joining Facebook, you probably realized that all these ‘friends’ you had online didn’t really amount to much at all. A once-a-year birthday greeting, an occasional like on a post. But for the most part, life continued the same before and after you became Facebook friends.
One of the confusing things about getting a little older is that you know a lot of people, but you don’t connect to them as much as you used to. You find reasons not to get together, your interests diverge, and life just gets in the way.
For some people you know, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Some people you’ve known for a long time can hold you down, keep you from becoming who you want to be.
But there are those rare few people – maybe one out of every hundred people – who are worth the time and effort to connect with regularly. These are the people who are on their own path in life, focused on becoming something, and are what I would call ‘actualizers.’
During the past few years, I have made a more deliberate effort to stay connected with these friends. If I feel a kindred connection with someone, I express it. I let them know I’d like to get to know them better. From there we make monthly plans to have coffee, or drinks, or plan activities together.
These are the friendships that I cultivate on purpose. And they enrich my life immeasurably.
Most friendship is circumstantial. You meet someone randomly, you have a connection in some way. An interest, a joke, a shared experience. In today’s world, maybe you ‘friend’ them on Facebook, or follow them on Instagram. But that’s about as far as it goes.
As an adult, the deepening of friendship requires a deliberate desire. Similar to dating, you have to actively decide to become better friends with someone, and invest some time and interest in getting to know them.
And here’s the cool thing: when you actively build friendships with people, you feel much more fulfilled. You get to share your life lessons and experiences with people who are traveling in a similar direction. You garner ideas and motivation just from being around them.
I believe that ‘friendship on purpose’ is a much-needed aspect of our lives. Instead of cramming more friends into a social media feed, it is more enriching to sit with them one to one and have a conversation.
If you feel a kindred connection to someone, then act on it.
Make plans. Make an effort.
Build a friendship on purpose.