Create a support system that you want and need sounds like an enormous undertaking, especially in the sometimes-harsh, female environment of snobbery and cattiness. I have wondered, is there room for friendship with women who are self confident, yearn for a true connection and mutual support through all phases of life while making beautiful and fun memories together?
I’ve spent a good portion of my life trying to find my Sex in the City version of best friends. I’ve had plenty of friends in my life; but I’ve never had the feeling, deep in my heart that these girls were here to stay. Many of my friendships felt temporary, like a new tube of mascara, short-lived as it clumps, flakes and dries out in due course. I want women who, despite our different natures, find one another inseparable as we live out the storylines of our everyday lives.
Now that I’m in my, ahem, late 40s I can finally say that I feel like my Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte are found…and I’m grateful that there are more than four fabulous women that have agreed to take me on as friends for life. ; ) A friend of mine (MK are her initials) once said to me, “I’m in this for the long haul.”
Many women have confided their difficulty in developing close friendships. I’d like to share how I managed to create a support system of beautiful women.
To create a support system means examining what kind of friend you are.
“Maybe the past is like an anchor holding us back. Maybe you have to let go of who you were to become who you will be.” ~ Carrie Bradshaw
I read this interesting entry from Karol Ladd several years ago and it has stuck with me ever since, The Seven Qualities of a Good Friend. Take the time to read her entry as it’s a great way to examine what kind of friend you are. Be sure to commend yourself for your greatness and clean up the clutter that is preventing you from being the very best you can be. To create a support system, this is the first step.
Be brave enough to ask for what you want and need.
“Be bold enough to use your voice, brave enough to listen to your heart, and strong enough to live the life you’ve always imagined.” ~ Carrie Bradshaw
This one is a toughie for many, including myself. Recognize that it’s ok to ask for help, a listening ear, a closer friendship, an afternoon or night out on the town. If you don’t ask, you won’t get and if you don’t get, you’ll just continue to feel unfulfilled.
My parents are deceased, my in-laws are out of state and elderly, my brother is in California and my sister is in Massachusetts so family support is not readily at my fingertips. I had to start asking a few of my close friends if they would be my family, aunts to my boys or I would continue to feel isolated and lonely. This wasn’t easy for me…but the positive end result outweighed any anxiety I had in putting myself out there.
When you ask for what you need, be sure to clarify what family means to you and how you want to create a support system of mutual comfort. If you’re really nervous, use your sense of humor to deflect any discomfort, “I would like to have you as my family, not in a Jerry Springer way, but more along the lines of Oprah.” You get the same point across, yet explain there’s no crazy to be had. ; )
Be vulnerable enough to share.
“Maybe we can be each other’s soul mates.” ~ Charlotte York
Life has given us all a bunch of lumps along the way. Many times these lumps are truly blessings, becoming a part of our fabric and forming us into who we are.
Our ability to be vulnerable defines the closeness of our friendships. Check out this entertaining, funny and candid TED Talk from Brené Brown, she is a personal favorite of mine, on The Power of Vulnerability.
Remember after you watch the 20-minute video: We are all storytellers. We are all worthy. We all have the ability to fully embrace vulnerability. We are enough. We all want to create a support system.
Friendship needs more than a 90-minute download.
Friendships don’t magically last for forty years, you have to invest in them. ~ Carrie Bradshaw
I spoke at a conference in Seattle recently and one of my Sex and the City girls agreed to travel with me and be my Karen, Grace’s personal assistant from the show Will and Grace. In my 46 years, it was the first time that I had ever traveled with a girlfriend. In addition, it was the first time I had left my children since my eldest was 18-months old, he’s now 10.
The trip to Seattle made me realize, there is so much more past the 90-minute download. Whenever I would meet up with a friend for lunch or dinner, shopping, a movie whatever…there’s this 90-minute download that always happens to get one another caught up with what is happening in each other’s lives.
After the 90-minutes, that’s where your friendship’s story begins…
You laugh, you begin to enjoy yourself in a different way and a bond forms that one cannot experience in the traditional 90-minutes. Circling back to my Seattle trip…there were memory burns made on that trip. We were able to get outside of our roles as mothers, wives, cooks, bill payers, and of course, Queen of the Toilet Scepter. We were able to step outside of these roles and become women, our truest selves who were travelling and fulfilling our own needs, talking about what is important to us and just plain being silly.
For those of you with young ones yet, I know it sounds like it might never happen…but it will. It did for me finally at 46! Speak with your husband or partner on how to create this kind of opportunity, it doesn’t have to be a travel trip but even just day away with a friend or friends. To create a support system, you need to invest time.
Put yourself out there…again…and again…and again.
“As we drive along this road called life, occasionally a gal will find herself a little lost. And when that happens, I guess she has to let go of the coulda, shoulda, woulda, buckle up and just keep going.” ~ Carrie Bradshaw
For some…creating a circle of friends comes easy, perhaps you’re still friends with the same group you went to elementary, high school or college. For some…you have possibly moved, your family and friends have dismantled due to a death, distance or necessity. No matter where you are in the creation of your support system, one can never give up extending yourself again…and again…and again.
Take time to connect with women who have similar challenges.
“Sometimes you need to step outside, get some air, and remind yourself who you are and where you want to be.” ~ Carrie Bradshaw
Today children have more diagnosed health challenges than every before: Food Allergies, Celiac, Asthma, ADHD, ADD, Diabetes, Asperger Syndrome, Autism, etc. In addition, let’s not forget many of us are of the sandwich generation, responsible for caring for our families and our aging parents. Perhaps your parents have already passed and you find it difficult to find friends that understand what being parentless is like.
It’s vital that we create a support system with other women that are dealing or have dealt with our same challenges. When possible, meet with these individuals in person. We are the social media generation that has transitioned away from the face-to-face and turned to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. for all of our support needs; and dare I say self-validation. Never underestimate the value of the in-person connection as it is crucial in our ability to feel heard, validated, connected and supported. Sure you may say I don’t have time to go to a support group meeting or conference, but honestly, you have to make the time. You have to make yourself and your needs a priority. After attending a gathering, you will wonder how you ever managed your challenge without women who know exactly how you feel, because they too live it every single day.
Bring your best of friends together to create a support system.
“The fact is, sometimes it’s really hard to walk in a woman’s shoes. That’s why we need really special women now and then to make the walk a little more fun.” ~ paraphrased from Carrie Bradshaw.
I have yet to do this, but the time is coming. Chances are if you have felt it challenging to create a support system of women, so do your friends as well. There’s nothing better than bringing your absolute favorite people together to meet one another, and I cannot think of a better way to honor them and your bond by introducing them to your very best.
In the end, know you’re a little weird…but so are your friends. Know that together or apart you and your friends are perfectly imperfect. There’s a lot of feelings that can run through your friendships, happy and sad. Mistakes will be made and forgiveness will be your truth. Sometimes you’ll cry tears of joy and other times you will help to shoulder one another’s sadness. The fabulous thing is that you will never have to go it alone. “They say nothing lasts forever; dreams change, trends come and go, but friendships never go out of style.” ~ Carrie Bradshaw
This entry is dedicated to all of my Sex and the City girls…and you know who you are! <3
Share with me your thoughts on friendship and building a support system by leaving a comment.