I get by with a little help from my friends
…is probably my favourite Beatles lyric [if not “I’d like to be under the sea in an octopus’s garden in the shade”].
Through all the stress of work projects and mental health challenges, consistently spending time with friends has been a huge help. While it is amazing to have the support of my friends, it feels equally fulfilling to focus on being a good friend to them.
Note their important dates on your calendar.
It means so much to me when my friends reach out the morning of my tea parties to cheer me on. Just a quick ping makes me smile. Following their examples, I note big dates for my friends, and send them a note with my support even if I can’t be there in person.
Before the old Taylor Swift died (RIP), she would post on Instagram to celebrate her friends’ birthdays and song releases. It’s something you don’t have to be a celebrity to do with your own friends.
Send a follow-up after meeting in person.
I will never forget this one time in high school when I spent a morning browsing bookstores with a new friend. On the way home I got a text from her saying she had a great time hanging out (this is back before touch screens, when texting took more effort!). I was pleasantly surprised, and promised myself to take up that habit myself.
Whether I met a friend in person or on Skype, I try to send a ‘great to see you’ note at the very least, and usually I’ll include something that came up in conversation, like a title of a book I was gushing about, or a link to an article I’m obsessed with. I always send out a reading list of topics discussed at my tea parties too – because, like Emma Woodhouse, I love a good reading list.
Brainstorm the next meetup.
This is one I mention in my ‘how to keep in touch with long distance friends’ article that applies to all friendships near and far. I love to gauge when we two shall meet again.
It’s fun to brainstorm what to do next – see a play, exchange neighbourhood tours, try a certain cafe… anticipation is half the fun!
Be there, and let your friends know that you’re there.
In Gossip Girl Blair and Serena will drop everything when they get an SOS text from the other, and magically appear on the other side of Manhattan to be there for their BFF. As much as this is probably more a plot device than anything, I have to admire their commitment.
I don’t have one best friend like Serena and Blair, or a tight-nit group that hangs out in a coffeeshop like in Friends. But, as Isabella Thorpe* in Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey says,
There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature. My attachments are always excessively strong.” (ch.6)
I must remind myself that because I don’t see my friends every day, it’s my responsibility to let them know that I care. I let them know that they can reach out to me, suggest specific ways of doing so, and always share when I see something that reminds me of them.
*Disclaimer: It turns out that Isabella is a bit of a hypocrite, so my taking inspiration from her ends with this quotation.
Be the one to suggest the adventure.
Take a moment to think of your ideal way of spending time with your friends – not just what you’re used to, and not just what everyone else seems to do. Sometimes I prefer going to the cinema by myself, and while I enjoy going to a beautiful cocktail bar for a special occasion, it’s not somewhere I enjoy spending my weekly budget [unlike in coffeeshops].
I love inviting friends to activities ranging from weird plays to mundane grocery shopping to a home screening of the new Lady Gaga documentary on Netflix [highly recommend!!] that I would otherwise curl up in bed and watch on my own.
To live the most vibrant life, with the flourishing social calendar of your dreams, sometimes you have to send the invitation.
P.P.S. If you would like me to bring a Heroine Training Tea Party to your city, submit your request here!