Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Decluttering Friendships

Today I have a slightly off-topic post for you.

I'm seeing articles everywhere about people trying to get rid of excess stuff in their house. I agree that too much stuff in your house can be a problem. Junk takes on a life of it's own. But what about clutter in other areas of our lives?

Let's begin with some quotes from people I don't normally seek advice from:

"I just wanna throw my phone away/Find out who is really there for me" - Katy Perry, Part of Me

"The friend who holds your hand and says the wrong thing is made of dearer stuff than the one who stays away." - Barbara Kingsolver

In this day and age we are busy and hyper-connected. Outside of meetings for work, there are meetups, fundraisers, kids' sporting events, church commitments, etc. With social media providing constant updates, people can develop anxiety about missing out on the latest news. (Ever see the episode of The Office where Ryan can't bring himself to turn his phone off and has to leave the trivia contest?)

What really annoys me is when people purposefully schedule a time to be together, and then all they do is sit around and check their phones. Constantly.

Call me old-fashioned, but when I take the time to get dressed (with kids "helping"), go out, possibly find a babysitter, and spend money on coffee or food, I want to have a real, in-depth conversation.

A lot of people ask why I don't have a Facebook account. No, I'm not one of those people who thinks Facebook is the devil. I'm just not sure that having 200 "friends" would really connect me with people in more meaningful ways. At least, not in ways that are worth the time sifting through the unnecessary info. Yes, you know what's on their mind, what their kids just did that's cute, and see pictures of it all, but then what do you talk about when you're together in person? And really, I'm not that interested in what you had for lunch.

Someday I'll be on Facebook, so I can monitor what my kids are doing there and (maybe) catch up with people from the past. But while my boys are in this precious, small stage, I just don't want to take time away from them (or my peace and quiet while they sleep) to add this into my life.

Don't worry, I still have friends. They are the ones who come over for dinner, who I meet at the park, who email, call or text because they want to know how I'm doing.

On a set day each month, I get together with one of my friends. We schedule ahead because our friendship is a priority and we know not planning means time slips away all too quickly. She and I have grown so much closer as a result.

I don't want to stand on a soapbox today, but I do want to encourage you, if you are feeling overwhelmed with trying to keep up with everyone and everything, to consider who is really there for you (of course, you need to be there for them, too). As an only child, my parents lovingly told me "it's about quality, not quantity." Whatever you think about only children, I believe quality is especially important with friendships.

Invest in the friendships that you want to last. Don't just figure you are busy and will do it sometime. Focus your time and energy on the relationships that are fun, rewarding and challenging. Share tough stuff, laugh together, and get together face-to-face.

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