Jay emailed me an article the other day and the topic was making friends as an adult. Among other things, the article put friendships into two categories: Optionals and Essentials.
Optional friends are chosen based on commonalities and a shared interest in a particular thing. They give you a false sense of hope and tend to be fleeting because as we grow our interests and likes are constantly changing. The article gave this example to describe optional friends:
Optional people are like your waiter; you think you need them because they are serving you food and it seems like they're important at the time. But in reality, you could replace them in an instant with any other common waiter standing around.
Essential relationships are built around necessities. These are the people who you open up with and who meet your needs. The article states, "When essentials are removed from your life- it hurts. This is the difference between a bond of convenience and a bond of necessity."
Needless to say, I found the entire article fascinating and I keep catching myself thinking of the different people in my life and deciding which category to drop them into. I don't necessarily think that one category is better than the other. In fact, I think that in the last few years I've gotten better at making friends in general and many Optionals have, over time, become Essentials. And even if they aren't Essentials, there is something to be said for having a group of people that you can just occasionally hang with and have fun.
Many of my Essentials are people I've never even met in real life. They said something here, or I said something there and, for whatever reason, they've become people I can count on. People who I think about regularly and 'miss' when I haven't had them in my life for a while.
Other Essentials are more obvious. For instance, I connected with my boss (and friend) almost immediately and it didn't take long for him to become an Essential. Sometimes you just know.
The article ends with this statement, "Forming relationships around necessities [with Essentials] is much harder to do because it requires you to open up, but it's also much simpler once you become skilled at it."
So I guess the moral of the story is, Open Up. It's harder and scarier, but worth it.