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Thank You for Being a Friend

Today’s #MentalHealthMonday is about friendship.

Now I know that I am incredibly blessed and privileged to have a lot of amazing people in my life, and not all people are as fortunate. For those of you who are feeling lonely, know that you are not alone. I know it’s scary as all get out to reach out, especially as a full-grown “adult” (when did that happen?), but it’s so, so worth it. You matter.

I’ve found that living with anxiety and depression, it’s really easy to discount the people in your life and tell yourself completely fictional stories that align with your insecurities - stories that tell you they don’t care, that they’re only being nice, that at the end of the day, you’re actually alone. In the words of the great Brene Brown, I’m here to tell you that those first draft responses that you form in your mind are shitty (#shittyfirstdraft). They’re baseless and unworthy of your attention.

Last weekend, I experienced the culmination of a leap of faith that I took in holding a fundraiser for a cause I really cared about (YWCA Kalamazoo’s services for survivors of sexual assault and risk reduction). I was met with so much support throughout the whole long and arduous planning process, but at the event, I was reminded of the diverse array of friends that I am so lucky to have, and the multitude of roles that they fill in my life.

The “Be Present” friend: Yesterday, I posted an adorable picture of my dear friend Irene and her cat wearing a headband (Irene, not the cat, though…ideas!). At the Galentine’s event, Irene took me by the shoulders and said, “Look at all of this. YOU did this.” And I can’t tell you how much I needed that.

The “No Matter What” friend: After a long day, about halfway through the event, I was thrilled and relieved to see my best friend, Brandy walk through the door, having driven 3.5 hours after a long day of work saving animal lives in Traverse City. The comfort that came with seeing her face and complete lack of shock at the event’s success (she is my Ann Perkins despite not having watched Parks and Rec yet) was immeasurable.

The “Whatever You Need” friend: I’m not sure how I got lucky enough to have an amazing person like Sabbi in my life for all of these years, but I’ve never met someone with the heart, commitment, and wholehearted willingness to roll up their sleeves and just…help. No muss, no fuss. And always with a huge smile and awesome energy.

The “It’s Been How Long?” friend: There are some people who are just a presence in your life no matter how much time passes between actual in-person visits. I hadn’t seen Maggie in person since pre-pandemic, but being the incredibly supportive, selfless person that she is, of course she showed up, despite an absolutely insane schedule (and y’all know I know a thing or two about that), and it was like no time had passed.

The “Timeless” friend: If you’re in your thirties and still lucky enough to be in regular contact with someone who knew you during your awkward middle school days and supports you wholeheartedly, make sure you don’t take them for granted. (Thanks, August and Lisa!)

The “Where Else Would We Be?” friends: I know this sounds strange but never take for granted the folks who DON’T surprise you (in the best ways). I don’t know what I did to deserve these folx in my life, but their presence is like a big hug - comforting, warm, and secure.

The “Receiving End of the Venting” friends: There were a few close people in my life, namely my union family (in addition to others), who not only tolerated my attention being divided, but also put up with a whole lot of grumpiness from yours truly when things inevitably turned stressful. I’m grateful for folx who know how to figure out whether I need advice, a listening ear, or most often, a hilarious sarcastic comment. Because angsty sarcastic humor is my love language.

The “Rooting From Afar” friends: Adulting is hard. The reality is, it’s hard to make schedules line up, and I’d be lying if I said I found this part of life easy. I’m blessed to have a lot of people in my life that I love, and unfortunately, seeing them all in person on a set date in the middle of a global pandemic just isn’t realistic. But to those who sent messages of encouragement, helped promote the event, picked up fabric or Valentine’s decorations for me, or simply sent good vibes, I appreciate you with all of my heart.

To the many incredible people in my life, thank you for being friends, and for teaching me how to be a better one. I love you all.

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