Two people can do the exact same thing, for two completely different reasons. People are funny like that. Sometimes it's a funny "haha" way, but sometimes it's a funny "sad" way.

Take friendships, for example. I am at an age where I have an equal amount of friends in college and in "the real world" (whatever that means). What I have learned in my post-collegiate days is just how much we take friendships for granted in school, even in college. A precious few friendship make it out of college, and survive distance and divergent paths. Those friendships are based on selfless love of a person... but most friendships in college seem to be the less-selfless love of a person's presence.

There is a subtle but important difference. The more mature friendships grow from genuine connection, from bonds that aren't as much necessitated by school year and class structure. These are the friendships where the friends become like family, and I have been blessed to have quite a few of them throughout the years. The less mature friendships grow from the stimulus provided by some quality in the friend's presence, something about being with them that is pleasurable to you. Certainly there can be an element of this stimulus in those more mature friendships, and these friendships can mature into genuine connections. The key factor in determining one from the other is this:

When you are in a less mature friendship, you are an option. When you are in a mature, genuine relationship, you are like family and made a priority.

The funny "haha" in this whole thing is in the ever-changing status of this circle of friends... the desire for this kind of friendship can cause people to do stupid things en masse, and this is hilarious. The "sad" part of this, however, is that we all yearn for the more mature friendships on some deeper level, but too often we are surprised to find that we are an option and not a priority.

I think the key to dealing with this is to know and expect both types of friendship. I'll befriend, talk to, and even invite out friends who consider me an option, because when they say know it's pretty much expected, and when they say yes it could be a pretty fun time. I'll spend my time with them, but I won't make them a priority. I will make time and focus more on those maturing relationships, because those are the ones that will follow us wherever we go.

Sometimes I feel a bit judgmental for lumping my friendships into these categories, but time and time again my judgments are verified and my heart is guarded from the sophomoric ache of unrequited platonic devotion (a one sided friendship).

See, two friends will come and hang out with me over these next few days. Some of them will walk in, see what fun they can have, or what mutual interest they can serve. They will leave when things feel slow or they feel bored. They are welcomed, be it at a meal, a concert, or simply hanging out after church. There is nothing wrong with that kind of friendship.

The other friend, however, will be there because I am there, because they love me and I love them. I welcome the first friend, but I treasure the second.

I'm 26 today.


Matt @ The Church of No People said...

I made that same discovery. I expected I'd be able to maintain my high school friendships, then my college friendships. The fact is that the few friendships I wanted to maintain, the other person put in very little effort. I suppose it's just the way people are, but you don't realize how important friends are really until you're an adult.

leanna marie jackson said...

happy birthday!

and you're so right. friendships are even more defined when you get pregnant 'out of wedlock.'

sad, but at the same time, refreshing to deepen the friendships with those who've stuck around.