Circle of friends grows as I grow older
TAMMY WEBSTER TAMMY WEBSTER IS A MEMBER OF THE RECORD’S COMMUNITY EDITORIAL BOARD.
I was having lunch a few weeks ago with a new friend and remarked that many of my recent friendships are with women of “equity-deserving communities.”
Perhaps it’s my field of work that brought this awareness to the forefront, but in apology to my lunch date after that unfiltered comment, I realized my recent friendships are all with very intelligent, thoughtful, strategic, loyal, kind and humorous women, who happen to be part of diverse communities.
It’s the diverse thinking, perspectives and understandings I’ve come to appreciate and value, and sometimes it’s only through lived experiences that these qualities are embodied.
I value intellectual conversations — chats about privileges, including how I’m not followed in stores and can travel across the border with my passport, with only a glance. Or how we can brainstorm and develop strategic solutions to work challenges. When I connect with someone who has understanding, empathy and perspective, I find that friendship flourishes and is long lasting.
Earlier in my life, I received advice that, as women age, new friendships become more difficult to develop.
I have found the opposite. While I’ve had a small collection of lifelong friends from when I was only single digits, along with some from my high school and post-secondary years, and some from my 30s, my circle has always been small.
I’m guarded with whom I allow into my personal life.
I’m also picky and have standards for those I would call and say, “Bring a shovel. I need your help!” To me, it’s a no-brainer: Friendships are personal as are relational connections that provide enrichment, conversation and laughter with people who will ideally send you on your last voyage into the spirit world.
Friendships can also be embedded in other titles — sibling, partner, spouse, parent, colleague.
I’ve always maintained a personal interpretation of chums and, through social media, qualify friends based on the connection — Facebook, Twitter, online, or with perks (the kind where I can get a retail discount).
In the past couple of years, I find I really value and respect friendships created where food, drinks, laughter, honesty, integrity, loyalty and trust are essentials, even though I’ve had to step out of my comfort zone when embarking on these.
Sharing aspects of myself with people I would not have opened up to in the past, discovering their value systems and learning to set my own boundaries are all things I view as risk-taking. To be fair, some earlier connections didn’t pan out, but many have. Maybe this process of friendships is a form of personal growth?
In any case, my friendship circle has grown more in the past three years than in the 10 years prior — perhaps due to therapy, the end of pandemic isolation, or by being more open about perimenopause.
I look at my phone, see the list of frequent contacts and a fun memory or great anecdote will provoke a grin, giggle or reminder of how rich my life is.
I also look at the contacts that are new.
Combine all those friends, family and some — but not all — of my social media connections, and I think my final send-off will be filled with incredible stories, laughter and jokes.
Toronto Star Newspapers Limited