It Takes a Village

friendship-collage

Two people isn’t enough. You need backup. If you’re only two people, and someone drops off the edge, then you’re on your own. Two isn’t a large enough number. You need three at least.
– Nick Hornby
, About a Boy

Like most introverts, I need regular one-on-one time with my close friends, but I’ve always liked the warmth of a group of friends just as much. Maybe it started in high school, when after several years as a relative outcast, I was absorbed into the big, loud family of marching band. (A good marching band, as any veteran can tell you, is a little bit like the Mafia. We may have issues amongst ourselves, but beware any outsider who crosses one of our own.) In college, I connected with a big social group right away and later transitioned to another, with my two best friends/roommates as constants. These days, I find myself at the center of a huge Venn diagram of diverse friend groups. I’ve kept most of my nearest and dearest from younger days, and added more circles over time: old and new church friends, yoga and music friends, Scary Internet Friends near and far.

People often tell me I’m lucky to have so many friends. That’s a fact that I try not to take for granted. But when you’re single, with no guaranteed companionship, a large home team equals security. To me, it’s a necessity. I’m loved much more widely and deeply than I deserve, but trust me, I need every drop of it. Friendship is crucial regardless of your relationship status, but I know I wasn’t built for the single life, and I’ll always be aware of the empty space where a life partner should be. I’m convinced – and thankful – that God’s provided this abundance of friends because it truly takes a village to fill the gap. Some days, all of that love and support is the only thing keeping me going.

Here are some reasons why I need a village, and ways in which my village helps me daily. These things could apply to any friendships, but I think they’re especially important for single people.

Availability. When I’m looking for someone to hang out or to go to an event with me, I frequently have to ask at least three people before someone says yes (and obviously the field is narrowed by whatever the event is). Sometimes I still have to go alone. People are busy. It’s frustrating. Aside: coupled friends, your single friends understand that your social time is more limited. When we ask you to do things, we’re not trying to rob your boo of your presence, and we will understand if you need to say no. But we’ll keep asking, because we want to see you. Also, we don’t mind hanging out with both of you sometimes (provided you don’t act sickeningly coupley). In my case, I’m low on male friends, so I enjoy being around my girlfriends’ husbands and boyfriends. Some are thrown off by my inability to provide another man for them to talk to, but most are cool with the fact that I’m cool with being a third wheel.

Diversity. Different friends play different roles in my life. The people I can depend on for a good time aren’t always the ones I can call when I’m upset about something. Some friends can provide an understanding ear on one topic but not others. Some will comfort you, others will give you tough love. Some will get you out the door, others will help you settle down. When you don’t have a go-to person for the ups and downs of life, you need a lot of specialists. (Though I don’t think it’s ever healthy to depend on one person for all your relational needs.)

Intimacy. No, not that kind. The downside of casting my friendship net far and wide is that I sometimes feel alone in a crowd, which is even worse than feeling alone alone. I think, These people care about me to some degree, but do they really know me at all? Do they even want to? Friendships can feel unbalanced if you only share the very lighthearted or the very serious. You need something in the middle, too. I’ve recently realized that sharing random life minutiae with people makes me all warm inside, and I think this is why. I feel loved and happy when friends text me pictures of their tickets to see a band or team we both like, or a bizarre item they saw at Target that would amuse me, or call to tell me their kid just did something hilarious, or they just saw a hawk swoop across the road with a live squirrel in its talons (true story). Of course sharing the Deep Stuff is necessary to build true intimacy, but I think little details like these are really underrated for creating bonds. They mean someone thought of you and wanted to invite you into a part of their daily life that they knew you’d appreciate.

Change. People change and lives change, and that’s as it should be. Even lifelong friends go through times when they’re less close or just can’t be what the other person needs. Having a village means other friends are always there to help fill a gap or ease a sense of loss.

Do you need a village too, or do you prefer to keep your circle small? What pros and cons have you experienced? Sometimes having a lot of friends can be a little exhausting, but on the whole, I wouldn’t trade it.

This post is part of a friendship synchroblog at Little Did She Know. Lots of great takes on the topic over there!

About Brenda W.

Christian. Memphian. Reader. Writer. True blue Tiger fan. Lover of shoes, the ocean, adventure, and McAlister's iced tea. View all posts by Brenda W. →
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One Response to It Takes a Village

  1. Kathy Russell says:

    I like the venn diagram image. I really think that’s how adult friendships are different from what we experience as kids. Or maybe we just have more circles as adults.

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