Last week, I had coffee with a friend of mine whom I hadn’t seen in 15 years, when we were both sophomores in high school. Amazingly, it felt as if little time had passed. Of course we indulged in our fair share of reminiscing. But what was truly gratifying about the reunion was the opportunity to realize just how similar out paths have been over the last decade and a half.
My friend and I have both struggled with disordered eating and body image issues. We have both turned to meditation, therapy, and yoga to help us through out insecurities. And we have both come to understand the value of authenticity and personal growth. We were 10 years old when we met, and we had no way of knowing that we would grow into adults with such similar value systems.
In fact, I have been amazed at the resilience of many of my long-term friendships. To be sure, friendships that develop in adulthood are extremely valuable, as well. But there is often something very intuitive about friendships formed in childhood and adolescence. At that age, we are likely choose our friends simply because we enjoy their company. We do not choose them based on their professional accomplishments or the fact that they are willing to be our gym buddies. At that age, we are often simply drawn to particular people because it feels good to spend time with them.
I realize this is not always the case. Many people drift away from their friends as they grow into adulthood. And many children and adolescents have their own less than authentic reasons for choosing their friends. What’s more, many people, myself included, develop amazing friendships in adulthood. But when we are young and our lives are not as busy, we have an opportunity to listen to our hearts and choose our friends because something about them resonates with us – not because their cubicle is next to ours. And when we are in school, we are able to spend eight hours a day with them – time in which we can relate to them as real friends, not co-workers.
For those of us who are lucky enough to have found authentic friendships at a young age, it is worth maintaining those relationships into adulthood because they are likely to be based upon an intuitive impulse that led us to those particular people because something about them with which we connected a deep level. In turn, these friendships provide a unique experience that nourishes the spirit.