That community of friends we long for
"Tonight we give the Pants the love of our Sisterhood so we can take that love wherever we go." (Ann Brashares, The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants)
Anne's relationship with her six friends is that of a RomCom (except there are seven girls instead of three or four #TheSplendidSeven). They've all been friends for more than 40 years! Some knew each other since age 12, while the latest member joined during the early university days. Nonetheless, they've kept in touch before the social media and group texting days! That's crazy, right?!
Simply put, Anne is passionate about keeping her community together. She was and is the cornerstone of preserving this friend group. How does she do it?
Part of sustaining this friendship was out of self-gain. Anne enjoyed having a solid support system and didn't want to lose it. You could call this being selfish, but I think it's more so being wise. Anne knew having a tight-knit community is more precious than gold, so she worked hard to keep it.
In practice, that meant being pressingly intentional about spending time together. During everyone's university days, the group of girls carpooled together whenever they could. In the beginning, their hangouts took place in their bedrooms and parent's basement. Then they initiated GNO or Girl's Night out. As they grew older, they introduced monthly dinners. Luckily, their husbands and kids got along with each other, allowing them to celebrate Christmas and birthdays together for the last 25 years.
But we can't talk about the good times without addressing the bitterness. Sadly, with the pandemic, it's been hard for everyone to hang out together. All seven members hung out together in person only twice in the past year. However, they celebrated birthdays together on Zoom, and they continue to stay active in their WhatsApp group.
Over the decades of friendship, unfortunately, a couple of friends drifted off along the way. For a community to work, it requires both parties to come together. It takes time and commitment, and not everyone can afford this. Life often prompts your priorities to change. Nonetheless, it can feel sad and disappointing.
Then you have inevitable disagreements and hurts in relationships. We're all familiar with feelings of betrayal, anger, and exclusion. Sometimes, the right thing is to leave that group. But Anne and her community allowed their care for each other to override their personal offenses.
Maintaining and nurturing friendships is not always effortless. It felt easier when you were younger because you had set times during the week -- that is, at school -- to upkeep our relationships. This gets difficult after graduating high school and university. You and your friends work different jobs and started having conflicting schedules. Then add family responsibilities to the mix. Trying to keep up with your friends can be challenging.
Amid these hurdles, Anne stresses the importance of being intentional. Good relationships take deliberate work and effort. You need to set aside time, gather people together, and show up to hangouts.
Here's the final magical ingredient: laughter. According to Anne, laughter is the best group therapy out there. She laughed with her friends as they planned for life after high school. Now she laughs with them as they prepare for retirement, cheering to a solid community of friends.
To contact Anne and learn more about this story, follow @tinkan_ on Instagram.