As a third culture child, I travelled the world for ten years from the age of 4. We never stayed in one country or indeed one continent for longer than 3 years. I have been to 8 different schools, and experienced numerous different schooling systems.
I’m naturally a sanguine person, fairly adaptable, friendly, and chatty. When you combine my personality with my life experience, you get someone who is very good at making friends.
But the ability to make friends is only part of the equation. Maintaining friendships is quite another matter. Due to my family’s frequent travel, I never had a friendship that lasted longer than three years until I was 14. It wasn’t until I was in my early twenties that I realised a good friendship needs some work.
I have discovered, to have a friendship that lasts longer than three years you sometimes have to agree to disagree. You sometimes have to listen to your friend tell you hard things about yourself, and seriously examine yourself to see if they are right. You have to walk with your friends through really, really tough times that despite your greatest desires you can’t fix. You have to be there in practical and useful ways instead of just sending a “thinking of you” text. But you have to send those texts too.
I met my best friend in year 11. It hasn’t been plain sailing. We had an easy friendship as you do at 16 and then slowly over time it waned. It took a conscious effort and some brutal honesty and sharing of difficult things on both parts to re-establish our friendship. She lives in another town but we text almost daily and speak a couple of times a week. She knows me, she knows my family. She knows me when I am on top of the world, and when I am not at my best and yes she has even seen me in some very ugly places. She knows who I was before I was a mother or even a wife. And she knows who I am now I am both.
Making friends that’s the easy part, maintaining friendships … that, that is hard work. But today I can say that I have friendships that have lasted for over 20 years and I am the richer for it.