What do you want in a friendship?


We’ve all heard that stupid advice: You are the combination of the five people you spend the most time with. I hate that advice because it lends itself to social climbing instead of developing meaningful connections. In 2013, I realized that while I had a lot of professional acquaintances, I didn’t have a ton of actual friends. Close friends from high school and college had drifted apart as we all moved to different corners of the country to pursue our lives, and I no longer had much in common with the people I used to work with. It was time to enrich my life with people I really love, so I started by writing this list of qualities I want in my friendships:

  • Openness: Feeling like we can be honest about our lives.
  • Intellect: Exchanging ideas and making each other think!
  • Laughter: Pure, simple fun.
  • Acceptance: Feeling OK together, not judged.
  • Adventure: Going places, trying things, meeting people together.
  • Support: Being able to talk to someone about what’s on my mind and feel heard and understood.
  • Encouragement: Getting excited about each other’s ideas and opportunities.
  • Comfort: Feeling cared for and loved.

I didn’t spend a ton of time thinking about the list once it was written, but looking back over the year, I can see that I navigated my social life differently after writing it. I invested more energy in relationships that meet most of these desires, reached out to old friends, and took the risk of seeking out people I thought might share my interests and intentions. In some cases it worked out, and in others it didn’t. Here are some of my favorite results from this new approach to friendships:

  1.  Got to know some incredibly cool people in San Francisco through my husband. I don’t get to see them often, but we stay in touch online and have a great time when we do meet up.
  2. Reconnected with best friends from high school — we had the BEST night in Lafayette when we were all home for Christmas.
  3. Emailing and Facebook messaging old acquaintances to rekindle an exchange of ideas — you don’t have to be ultra close with everyone to be able to appreciate them!
  4. Meeting Jenn and starting the derby experiment and a host of other adventures.
  5. Bar hopping in DC for Stan’s birthday with a bunch of new friends. (Stan is actually another Jenn, but The Ladyfriend Committee has renamed her for practical reasons.)
  6. Girls movie night — we watched The Little Mermaid and drank … a lot.
  7. Coffee dates, book exchanges, and anime nights with a lot of new people I’m grateful to have in my life.
  8. Developed a very special friendship with a feminist friend in Bolivia — we’ve never met in person, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be friends!
  9. Reconnected deeply with my husband and fell in love with him about a dozen times. After all, he really is my BFF.

I’m extremely grateful for the people who’ve come into my life and for the old friendships I’ve been able to renew. My social life is now a much more accurate reflection of my real values instead of being just a list of people I kinda know from work.

This year, I encourage you to seriously look at who is in your life and what kind of give-and-take you have with them. Do your friends support you and make you feel like your best self? Are they people you want to give back to? Do you get excited when you see them learn and grow? Try making a list of the attributes you most want in your friendships, and see how that changes the way you interact. And remember to always act with love. 🙂


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Weekly Assignment: What Do You Need?

Take what you need

Here’s what I want you to do right now. Take stock of how you feel.

What’s your energy level like? Rate it from 1-10 where 1 is falling asleep and 10 is bouncing off the walls.
What’s going on in your mind right now? Just make note without dwelling on it. Are you thinking about 15 different things? Writing your to-do list?
Are you worried about anything? Holding on to anything? Obsessing about anything?
Are you bored, anxious, or angry?
Are you hungry?
Just pay attention for a minute to what it’s like to be in your body, in your life, right now.

Now, here’s the important question: “What do I need or want right now?”

I try to ask myself this question pretty regularly, and I get a variety of answers depending on the day. For example …
a hug
to be heard
a few minutes of silence
really loud music
an escape
something to work on
a nap
a walk
a kitten
a vacation
to get laid
to feel appreciated

The follow-up question, of course, is “What can I do to address that?”

Do it every day this week, and indulge yourself. If if what you want is an orgasm every day, you just go the heck ahead and do that, guilt free, ok? If anyone questions you, tell them I said you could by the almighty power of the internet. See how you feel when you grant your own wishes.

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Weekly Assignment: Fortune Telling

Zelmoe Zandini

Wanna know what your future holds? It’s not as hard to predict as you might think. Stop and think about your life as it is right now. Think about your family life, your work/school situation, your general state of mind, your habits.

Write or draw the answer to the following question: What will my life look like in 5 years, 10 years, or 20 years if I continue on my current path? This is not a fanciful exercise in which we imagine what we want and pretend that it’s going to magically happen. Look for the likely natural outcome of your current actions. You might like some of what you see, and you might dislike some of it.

Maybe you see yourself getting some promotions. Maybe you imagine finishing your graduate program, publishing your first book, directing a play, starting a family, or traveling the world.

Or maybe you see yourself thinking “I shoulda quit that job when I had the chance.” “I should’ve said what I really felt.” “I should’ve tried just to see where it would lead.”

What can you change right now to make sure you get a little more from column A and a little less from column B?

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Practical Advice for Getting What You Want

[ This IS ALL WE Need : And SOME Love AND Passion ] Temple Bar, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

“Argue for your limitations, and sure enough they’re yours,” I said rather pompously to a friend the other day. I was quoting Richard Bach, a hippy writer whose books I read as a kid.

“Argue against them, and they know you’re bullshitting,” my friend retorted. I thought that was worth considering.

Or as Barbara Sher wisely says, “Don’t stand in the middle of a superhighway and create your own reality.”

It is essential, as a sane, functional human being, to be in touch with reality. We don’t argue against gravity, we don’t stand in the middle of a busy street, and we generally avoid rage quitting our jobs without any plans for the future. This is called being a responsible adult. But reality being what it is doesn’t mean you have to just sit there and take it.

  • A black person will never be president of the USA because our history is too fraught with racial problems.
  • A woman can’t be an astronaut because she wouldn’t be able to meet the physical training standards.
  • Humans will never fly because if God wanted us to fly we’d have wings.
  • The internet won’t catch on because only geeks understand it.
  • I’ll never be able to do what I love because I won’t make any money.

All of these statements are bullshit. If we believe them, they become self-fulfilling prophecies. If we reject them outright, maybe people think we’re wearing rose-colored glasses at first. But we can let go of the assumptions.

Instead of predicting what will or won’t happen in the future, pick a goal and work on it. Instead of telling yourself that your dreams are impossible, ask yourself, “What if there were a way?” What would that look like? How would it feel?

When you’re ready to start making things happen, talk about it. Tweet about it. Post it on Facebook. Make a Pinterest board for it. Let your wishes be known. This isn’t some magical visualization technique I’m giving you, it’s practical advice. If you start talking about big ideas, soon people will know you as “That chick with all the big ideas,” and when the right people hear about it, they will want to be part of what you’re up to.

And finally, don’t beat yourself up if things don’t go your way immediately. I must have tried hundreds of hair-brained schemes before I figured out how to do what I love in a sustainable way. We are in a constant process of evolution, and it takes practice and patience to move in the direction you want. We may never really “get there,” but we have the option to enjoy the journey.

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What Do You Deserve?

think positive

In the realm of manifesting and positive thinking, people like to talk about what they deserve. I keep seeing and hearing the statement, “I deserve the best, and I accept the best now.” That’s a nice thought, I guess, but I can’t say it out loud without rolling my eyes. So, I wanna talk for just a second about what we deserve.

What I deserve is not about how the world treats me. It’s not about whether you like me, pay attention to me, give me compliments, look forward to seeing me, cook me dinner, buy me presents or anything else.

What I deserve is about how I treat myself.

I don’t deserve to sit around waiting for someone to acknowledge me, laugh at my jokes, or decide they want to sleep with me. I don’t deserve to beg the powers that be for a little extra cash in exchange for the precious hours of my life.

What I deserve is to do the work of my dreams, to live the brilliant life that is handed like a shining gift to all humanity, to luxuriate in the richness of every moment, to honor myself not because I am the queen of my own dominion but because I am a manifestation of the divine, electric, scientific, evolutionary, revolutionary, life-affirming, fire-starting, world-changing spark that is alive in all of us.

I deserve to live that reality fully because anything less is a goddamned shame.

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