Jennifer: Friendship, is our Focus word for February 2021. I’ve been pondering over an article for the month of February focusing on friendships, & then I realized I had one in my archives!
If you’d like to join our conversation on Friendships this month on Zoom, please connect with me. As a group of women we meet monthly to discuss and share in authentic conversation.
Jennifer: This is a guest post by my long time sister-friend, Lady Victoria Walker, who has been a friend over the course of the past 20 years, or more. She and I both really love friendships and try our best to keep our friendship as connected and authentic as possible. I love and appreciate her for her depth and honesty. A few years ago, she and I had a really good conversation about friendships, and I thought it would be neat for her to write a guest post for my blog!
Friendships – Are You Really My Friend or My Soundbite Buddy?
Earlier this year, I was contacted by a long time friend, Jennifer, to write a blog for her website about the topic of friendship. I thought it would be a simple project…then I discovered, that preparing for the task led me through an interesting discovery process. First, I decided to take a long look at the number of contacts on my phone; and then, I asked myself “huh, it looks like over a couple hundred people are here, but who has contacted me recently?!” So, I decided before writing an article about friendship, let me first find out what’s going on with my own friendships!
I am so glad that the opportunity to complete this writing project literally forced me to reevaluate the people in my life that I considered friends. This journey has led me to take the time to focus on who I have in my life and why they are there. More importantly, how do they really feel about me as a person and how do we treat each other. As a writer, I wanted to gather pertinent data to assess the actual quality of my friendships as opposed to just accepting, at face value, that just because we connect, does that mean we are friends?
Would you believe I developed an actual friendship questionnaire?! And sent it out to my “friends” by email. I explained it was an important matter to me and requested their help by responding honestly to the questions which I had carefully crafted. Let me tell you, that was an eye-opening experience! If you would like to use my survey tool, feel free to ask me. However, you should know I discovered, only a few people actually read my email. I know, I know. Everyone is busy and their email accounts are overloaded with emails. Okay. Then, out of the few that read it, the responses were intriguing, uplifting and some were down right hilarious! One person wrote to me and said: “you are salt and light in a tasteless dark time”; how encouraging! Some people complained that they preferred to discuss their responses with me over the phone instead of answering the many questions. The phone conversations were actually very enlightening. They lead to some discussions about our friendship which would not have occurred unless I asked questions like: “why do you like me as a friend?”
I mean really. When was the last time you asked someone…”why do you hang with me?” Do you really know if your friends actually feel about you, the same way you feel about them? One of my friends who is in her senior years, said to me that when she started asking similar questions of her friends, whom she had known for years, she found out after 30 years that they did not feel the same about their friendship as she did…to her amazement! Apparently, many of her relationships were more one-sided, and she had not picked up on that. It seems learning how to develop and manage good friendships can take a life time.
As I began to have these “assessment” discussions with the other people I know, I discovered that many of them were not taking the time to evaluate who they had in their lives and why. It seems that, today, people are so busy trying to make a living, that as long as they “connect” with others by Facebook, Twitter, forwarded email chain letter or some other social media platform or perhaps by text, those “sound bite” “drive-by” contacts from others are the new way friendships are being managed. Hmmm…
It also became apparent, during this discovery process, that while our phones may have hundreds of contacts, how many of those people actually have contacted you, by phone, this year? It’s now July. Half of the year is over. How many have called just to say hello and to ask “how are you?”. Often when I asked, I discovered, people are not really contacting others to have meaningful dialogues. It makes me wonder about the quality of friendships that people are having these days, are they really developing relationships that are strong, enduring and endearing? Between our daily busyness and social media, how solid are our friendships?
Can people really develop trustworthy and sound friendships without regular meaningful engagement or just depending on soundbite conversations when they log into a social media account? Is everyone so busy that we are not paying attention that fewer people are really reaching out to see how you are “really” doing? More and more I am hearing that people are not really speaking to each other, but may receive a contact by text or social media every now and then.
I don’t know about you, but frankly, while I understand the importance of remaining relevant by keeping up with people using social media platforms, since we can connect with so many at a time… I still enjoy a friendly conversation when I call a friend or they take the time to reach out to me…to let me know that I matter, deserve more than a soundbite and that they care. How about you?
By the way, I cleaned out my phone and email contacts. I am still available if they choose to reach out, but I decided to focus on people, who are the friends, that have chosen to focus on me!
: Lady Victoria Walker is a global operations, communications and administrative systems designer, writer, public speaker, professional voice-over talent and productivity enthusiast. She is from Guatemala, Central America, raised in the Bronx, NY and earned her B.S. in management and communications at Syracuse University. She is tri-lingual and tri-cultural, speaking English, Spanish and Garifuna (a Central American language). She currently serves as the Vita Global Operations Director. Lady Victoria’s voice has been broadcast locally in DC, nationally and around the world. Her creative writing has been featured in WAVA FaithTalk Magazine, GoodProspects.com and more. Her background includes extensive experience in organizational, media, project and business management development both in the corporate and non-profit sectors servicing companies such as: Motorola, Atlanta University, Syracuse Community Health Center, SCHC Total Care, Inc., Salem Communications, Inc. – 105.1FM / AM780 WAVA, SRN News and Goodwill Industries International. She lives in the Metro DC area, teaches liturgical dance, is an aspiring vocalist, mentor and photographer. Lady Victoria strives to serve others by connecting her purpose with international productivity.
Connect with her at: LadyVictoriaWalker@gmail.com