Tuesday, November 11, 2008

On Being a Better Friend

About this time last year, I was getting ready to take the plunge.  The plunge into working from home, into a more domestic pace, into the unknown.  And one of the reasons that I felt like a plunge was needed was that I didn't have energy for relationships anymore.  My friends (the few that I had) would call me and leave me messages because I was too tired after work to answer the phone.  Emails would sit in my inbox for days at a time with no response.  Birthday cards were always late, if sent at all.  And once I completely stood up some friends for dinner because I forgot about them.

I missed my friends, and felt bad that I was such a dud.  I hoped that by changing my lifestyle, my energy for relationships would return.

About a year later, I can say happily that I do have more time for friendships.  I've even made new friends this year, and I return my emails on time, and answer my phone.  So "the plunge" worked.  Only...I'm not really the kind of friend I want to be yet.

I wrote yesterday that "Don't Deviate Alone" is something I'm just now wrapping my head around.  That living an unconventional life is pretty pointless if it doesn't help those around me.  And since the closest people around me are my friends and family, it is important to keep working on being a better friend and family member.

Because my new "deviant" lifestyle is more flexible, I should have the time to be more thoughtful--to write more tha
nk you cards and visit more people.  I should remember birthdays and make phone calls just to say hi.  And I should be more ready  to help, by offering a listening ear or bringing over dinner or running an errand.  I should do these things...but I don't.  At least not nearly as often as I'd like.

Why should I do them?  Because we need each other.  Or at least I need others.  I feel like the world we live in is always trying to pull us apart--by placing demands on our time and our money and our energy.  Even in my self-made job, I tend to get distracted by how much money I'm making and what my next step will be.  I forget that the things that really matter are my friends and my family.

So I'm still working on my priorities.  And I'm thankful that it is easier now than it was a year ago.  Hopefully I can say the same thing a year from now.

How do you make time for your friends and family?  Share your tips with me by emailing me at shillberry@comcast.net or commenting here.
Don't go too far--stick around for another Smarty Pants post later today.

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