Rare is the person who will say "I don't want more from my friendships." Whether that "more" means making new friends, feeling more fulfilled with their current friends, or feeling like they have the time to enjoy those friends-- most of us want more.
And yet... unfortunately all to rare, too, is the person willing to really do something about it.
Unfortunately, the actual process of making friends includes activities and feelings most of us would rather avoid:
- putting ourselves in situations to meet people (and, unfortunately TV characters don't count)
- small talk with strangers (every friend starts out as one!)
- initiating a get-together (why can't they just appear on our door when we have time?!)
- annoying logistics (back and forth emails, anyone?)
- feeling our insecurities (what will I say? what if I look nervous? what if I'm too shy?)
- fearing rejection (they probably won't like me... they probably don't need new friends... they probably won't make time for me)
- believing the future can be different from the past (ever been betrayed? ever felt de-valued? ever felt like nothing works?)
The very process of making friends quite different from the outcome we hope to experience.
What we want to feel is supported, loved, seen, known, and valued. What it takes to get there sometimes is awkwardness, small talk, exhaustion, insecurities, and uncertainty.
What we want is intimacy; what we have to start with are introductions.
What we want is familiar; what we have to start with is foreign.
What we want is a best friend; what we have to start with is a new friend.
His Question: Are you willing to suffer for what you want?
A blog post written by a guy named Mark Manson in 2013 is now making it's rounds on Facebook (I had two separate friends send me the article this week!) where he challenges his readers: are you willing to suffer a process for the outcome you desire?
He argues it's the most important question you can ask yourself. Reminding us that we all want pretty similar things in life: healthy bodies, amazing relationships, meaningful work, abundant money, and realized dreams, but we're not all willing to suffer the process that comes with those things.
Here are some examples, besides the friendship one I started with:
- In the book writing world, it's said that 81% of Americans say that they want to write a book-- but only a small fraction do. Understandably... since it's a long road of time and emotion.
- Most Americans want to be thinner or healthier... but not all of us are willing to go sweat or say no to our pleasures in order to achieve it.
- Mark said he wanted to be a rock star, but he wasn't really willing to play small gigs, haul his music gear, and round-up a band. It's a lot of work!
He says, "I wanted the reward and not the struggle. I wanted the result and not the process. I was in love not with the fight but only the victory. And life doesn’t work that way."
My Answer: The Price Tag
I agree with him that we do in fact need to ask ourselves what we're willing to give toward the outcomes we desire...
But, and this is a big but: our ultimate goal isn't to suffer as much as it's to invest in what we say matters to us.
The metaphor I often use with myself is that of a price tag: How much am I willing to pay for this? Which has to be asked with the question: how much do I value this?
When we go shopping-- we have choices. We can buy the used, beat-up, 10-year old car for $2500... or we can buy the newest one that boasts a few more zeroes on the price tag.
Which one is the right choice? It depends on what you think you're buying, how much it matters to you, what you most value/prioritize, how many resources you have, and what other things you need to buy with what you have.
Sometimes the "cheaper" option is the right choice and sometimes it's not. Sometimes the higher price tagged item is the one we choose because we value what we're getting with that extra cost.
We all have things in our lives we're willing to "pay the higher price" for... we do that because we believe the outcome is worth the cost. We pay more for what we value.
So the goal isn't just to be pay the cheapest price for everything, nor is it to pay the highest price for everything we say we want; the goal is to make sure that we invest our resources in the areas that we say matter the most. That may mean, since we have limited resources, we have to "spend less" in some areas in order to "afford more" in other areas.
What Price Tag is Worth Friendship to You?
I invite you to really ask yourself this year:
- How much do I really want more in my friendships this year?
- How important is that outcome to me? How valuable is it?
- What price tag or investment am I willing to make for that outcome?
- Do the two--the value and the price-- match? (Does the value and price feel fair or am I hoping for "a new car" while only willing to pay for "a used one"?)
The goal, of course, isn't to "suffer" but rather to know that what we're investing in is worth the outcome to us.
If experiencing more in your friendships is important to you... what might be some of the "costs" (see list at top of post for some ideas!) that you think would be the best investments you're willing and able to make toward that outcome?
My prayer for you: that you reach your friendships goals and say "it was worth every cent."