How many of you horsey people out there have real friends that don’t also participate in horses?
While I find that having horses and participating in horse sports lets me meet lots of people and be social, I have very few real friends. I just don’t have time unless they want to visit while mucking a pen. I don’t get out for coffee or a movie very often. “Just hanging out” when there are chores to do is almost impossible.
Many people seem offended when I let them know that I really don’t have time to invest in a relationship beyond the casual conversation at work, or “small talk” at the stable when we happen to be there at the same time. It’s nice to be able to say “we should have coffee sometime”, but I don’t because I know it will never happen and I don’t make promises intentionally that I know I won’t keep.
I hear over and over again “you should make time”. For better or worse, horses make up a significant part of my life. Family and a long distance boyfriend take up much of the remaining time. I DO make time for those things that are important in my life, but I cannot spend my time feeling guilty because someone has decided that they want to be friends and then feels snubbed because I can’t commit to the same level. At this point in my life, just because I may enjoy someone’s company doesn’t mean I can necessarily commit to a friendship. I actually start to get nervous if I start feeling “too close” to someone that could mean a friendship that I might feel obligated to make time for.
Not to mention it’s easier to find something in common with someone if their passion matches yours. If 80% of my life is spent thinking, riding, and caring for horses, then it makes sense to have friends that have that same passion, especially because most of my family doesn’t share my passion, nor does my boyfriend.
There is something commendable about having a life-long friend. However, more likely most of your friends will come and go based on what life stage you are end. I think sometimes we (meaning “the culture we live in”) has a hard time letting go of friends. I think Facebook/Myspace and other social media is a testament to not being able to let go of the past. I hear regret in people’s voices when the talk about not having seen a friend in some time, or losing track of a friend. I used to feel this way to. “We were such good friends!”, “Why can’t I make this work?”. Reading CS Lewis’s “Four Loves” book helped me to understand that often friendships originate in a certain life circumstance (a hobby, a club, a similar lifestage) and when that circumstance change, often the friendship will fade as well. It’s normal, and growing apart from friends as life moves on is part of life.
Recognizing this has helped me to live “in the moment” with my friends. We are friends RIGHT NOW because of work, or endurance, or blogging, or church, or tragedy, or life stage. When that circumstance changes, so will the friendship. I tend to not talk about the future – as in “someday we should go get coffee”, or “wine tasting would be really fun” – if we are going to do something then let’s DO SOMETHING SOON.
During Christmas I often start to feel regret as I think of all the friends whom I have basically “ignored” over the last year that I wish I still had a relationship with – fencing and college buddies, past hobbies and clubs, old co-workers, college roommates. But then I remind myself that life changes and so do friendships. I remind myself of the good times we had and if I know their address, I’ll pop a xmas card in the mail just to say hi.