Saturday, April 15, 2006
April 2006 TransGriot Column
Friends..I Got Friends
Copyright 2006, THE LETTER
I got friends
My values are with my
So glad that I
I got friends
And not the fair weather kind
This is the chorus to the classic 1980's Shalamar song about friendship and what it means to be one.
One of the unexpected benefits of founding Transistahs-Transbrothas in 2004 was the fact that I gained some new friends and reconnected with some old ones in the trans community.
A member of Transistahs-Transbrothas recently posted to the list about feeling 'alienated' because TSTB members share a closeness and cohesion that isn't found on many Internet lists and the member felt left out. While that wasn't intentional, the comment did spark some discussion and I spent a few days pondering the question.
What does it mean to be a friend?
Maintaining a friendship takes a lot of work, shared values, some shared interests and a commitment from both parties to keep the lines of communication open. I've been blessed to still have some friends around in my life that I met in elementary, junior high and high school. Others I have met during various periods of my life.
One of my cardinal rules about friendships is that I treat them like a marriage. Once I've gotten to the point that I consider you a friend, it's till death do us part. Loyalty is another important characteristic that I look for in my friends. What I mean by that is that they know that I'll have their backs and they'll have mine.
In that regard I've been blessed to have friends that took two days off from work to help me move, forwarded a manuscript of mine I was working on to an agent, read another one of my manuscripts and critiqued it, set me up with DJ gigs, paid my airfare home when I needed to go back to H-town for my grandmother's funeral and was in between paychecks, and helped teach me the ins and outs of Femininity 101.
I also don't limit myself to my age group when I choose my friends. I like having a diverse, intellectual group of people around me. There are times when a 24 year old can give me fresh insights on an issue that someone in my peer group may not be able to. I also like soaking up wisdom from friends who are older than me.
I always liked having people smarter than me around that I can learn and grow from but that doens't necessarily mean that you have to be a college grad to be my friend. Some of the smartest people I've interacted with in my life had less than a high school education but taught me much.
Friends will also tell you when you're screwing up, give you that motivational kick in the butt when you need it, praise you when you deserve it or give you that comforting hug or words when you're feeling down. They have a way of making you feel that you are the most important person in their lives at that particular moment in time.
It also takes some risk to open yourself up to possible rejection when you first approach someone that you are trying to get to know on that level. But if you do and the two of you click personality wise, its a win-win situation for both parties.
I can't comprehend my life without the friends I've made and I'm going to make and don't even want to try to imagine doing so. But unfortunately we have some peeps in this world who believe that it's a waste of time and energy to get to know someone on that level or they don't want friends because they're antisocial, loners or afraid of being hurt.
Have my friends said things to me that pissed me off? Yes.
Have I said things that have hurt my friends feelings? Yes.
That's just a part of life. If you choose them wisely it minimizes those occurences. Sometimes those moments are either unintentional or can't be avoided because you need to hear the unvarnished truth about something even if you aren't in the mood to accept that advice at that time. If your friend didn't love you, they wouldn't speak up and tell you what you needed to hear in the first place.
There are times when you will crack up laughing at each others stories, cry a bit or get on each other's last nerve, but the benefits far outweigh the alternatives of trying to make your way in a world alone.