The shelf-life of a friendship

I’d like to take a moment and talk about my friends. My incredible, impossible, and lovely friends.

There aren’t many of them. I’m a shy person, an introvert, even a bit of a hermit on some occasions, so I don’t meet many people. I make few connections, and always on rare instances. It takes a very precise string of events for me to make a friend. So knowing how tough they are to come by, I truly treasure my tribe. I may not be able to express that as well as I need to sometimes, but I’m learning. They’re my favorites, and I’d do anything for them. I hope they know so.

That, and I really hope they’ll stick around.

It’s said that if a friendship reaches the seven-year mark, it likely has no expiration date. By that point, enough life has happened to both people that they know whether or not they can endure the changes.

In a period of 2557 days, there will be plenty of ups and downs. There will be stretches of silence, bouts of anger, instances of fear and frustration. There will be heartbreaks and loss and absolute devastation. No bond, regardless of its strength or duration, can escape the pitfalls.  What keeps a pair going is knowing that there are more good times than bad. Two people who can rely on one another, who demonstrate trust and understanding, who put in the required effort, who are able to laugh at themselves and just genuinely enjoy one another’s company…..those are the friendships that last.

I’m fairly young, so I don’t have many of them that have passed the test just yet. So far, just a current college roommate that I’ve known since I was 6, and a neighbor back home who I formed an unlikely camaraderie with despite a generation gap. But I have others well on the way. There’s the clever kid I met during a journalism workshop when I turned 17, the high school teammate that’s been in my life ever since the start of my junior golf season, and the coworker turned friend turned roommate that I’ve known for two years but seems closer to ten.

That’s not to say the friendships that don’t last aren’t important. They are. The guy you were close to all of freshman year of college…he was important even if you don’t keep up anymore. And the girl from your all-star team who was one of your very best friends from the fourth grade until you were 16….so close to seven years, but just not quite there. Just because a relationship might have a shelf life, that doesn’t mean it can’t nurture you for the time being.

I have current friends who I’ve met in the last couple years that also mean the world to me. Time isn’t what makes people click, after all. But lasting is a matter of continuing to click even as both people mature and grow in different directions. Frankly, friendship is fleeting. The outlook isn’t good. Sure, of course I hope at least a few of these newer people are still in my life a decade from now, but a lot of them won’t be. And that’s okay. I’d still go to the end of the world for them today.


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