I have been thinking a lot about friendships lately. Maybe it is because I am at that age where all my friends are sinking their teeth into the meat of their careers or getting married, but I have been thinking a lot about what it means to be a good friend when times aren’t this easy and happy. Like, at some point all the weddings, graduations, and promotions are going to end and then what?
The bad times- the hard times when there are tears, disappointment, illness, and uncertainty, are what truly bring people together. Sure, we can bond over our shared love of books, television shows and music, but it is accountability that truly sustains the bond between two people.
Yesterday morning, country singer Kellie Pickler debuted a new look, inspired by the courage of her cancer-stricken best friend. With a proudly shaved head, Pickler declared that she had chopped her blond locks to support her best bud, and also raise awareness for frequent mammograms for younger women. “If this compels even one person to change their mentality towards waiting until the age of 40 for their mammogram, then it will be worth it.” She said.
Certainly shaving your head is a big deal, but what I think is even more noteworthy is that Pickler made her best friend’s issue her own cause.
It is such a powerful thing to give 100% of your support (and your hair) to someone you love. It takes a lot of sacrifice, and it is not fun, easy, or pretty, but we commend Pickler not just for what she did for her friend, Summer Hold Miller, but for women everywhere. One in eight American women are diagnosed with invasive breast cancer every year, and knowing how to detect the symptoms early is a great way to help prevent the spread of the disease. By speaking up about what Miller is going through, Pickler is reminding women that caring about their own health is key to being a good friend.
A lot of days we go through life just trying to improve our own lives and make ourselves happy. Friendships can be fickle and tested over foolish, inconsequential things. And of course life goes by so fast, there can be days or even weeks when you don’t see or talk to the people who know you the best. But when was the last time you actually had a real conversation with one of your friends? When was she last time you asked s/he what she was afraid of, felt s/he was missing out on, or wanted to improve? When was the last time you said, “Let me help you,” and meant it?
Perhaps it would not hurt any of us to take a queue from Ms. Pickler and do something more for our friends. I don’t mean like, making them a bracelet or inviting them to a movie (though all of those things are nice), but rather, reminding them that they are so important to you. The best way to do this (and it is so easy) is to ask them questions, and listen. And then take it from there. You never know what you might discover.