Gosh, this post might make me cry.
In a prior post I mentioned the high impact social circles have on happiness and overall wellbeing. I can’t stress enough how important a quality social circle can be for full living. My classes on therapy always include a lesson or two on how necessary it is to gauge a client’s social network and level of social support during the first or second session, because this can be a critical strength or weakness in the road towards the achievement of personal goals and overall joy.
Social circles don’t have to be big. They can include one or two close friends or family members. The size of one’s social support isn’t important; instead, it’s all about quality over quantity.
Of course, there are many roadblocks people can face when they are trying to expand or strengthen their social support. One common issue that comes to mind is social anxiety, which can seriously affect a person’s ability to branch out or deepen relationships. (If you are interested in learning more about social anxiety and how to combat it, you can find some ideas here.) Other hurdles to developing quality social circles are low self-esteem, issues with trust or vulnerability, feeling trapped in a negative social circle that seems impossible to leave or improve, feeling unsure how or where to start, and limited options.
These are all very difficult situations, and this post would be very long if it addressed them all here. Plus, each situation is entirely individual. I highly recommend seeing a trained therapist to those struggling with developing a social circle they feel good about. (How did you know I was going to say that? 🙂 )
For now I’d like to take a moment to thank those who have been my social support through high and low times. I haven’t always had these people – I’ve had my own bouts of loneliness and inability to trust the love of others. Thankfully, these people still found me and loved me anyway.
I’ve been very fortunate to have built relationships people who support and care about me. In no particular order, I’d like to take a moment and celebrate them! Here it goes:
Kayla – My Middle School Bestie
Kayla and I met on the first day of seventh grade and it changed my life forever. She knows me and understands me probably better than anyone else and always says just the right thing when I’m in a pickle. Plus she’s always down to do something a little risky, whether it’s skydiving for my birthday, parasailing (also for my birthday…I’m sensing a theme here), or eating an unsafe amount of chocolate.
Kelsea – The Roommate
Kelsea and I met in undergrad where we lived in the same house with a bunch of girls for two years. When we found out we got into the same graduate school in New York City we looked at each other and said, “If you go, I’ll go.” So we did! And honestly, I could not imagine making the move to this wild place without her. She’s been my rock through all the highs and lows, and she puts up with (and even agrees to!) my daily invitations to attend an event downtown or go to a restaurant I’ve been eager to try. You’re the best, Kels.
Kemp – Da Boyfrand
This kid! He’s my partner in crime, my favorite person to eat with, and the best explorer I know. While he doesn’t always share my desire to be constantly moving and trying new things, he always entertains my love of adventure by suggesting ideas or going along with mine. And he has the best taste in movies, which is very important. Oh, and he’s always supporting me in everything I do, which is amazing because sometimes I make no sense. Thanks, Kemp. You’re pretty alright.
My Social Work Pals – The Best Kind of People
There’s Fiona, who is always there to help when I’m in a pickle and sacrifice an afternoon when I’m moving or need to vent; Ashley, who is always down to be my partner in shenanigans and gives the very best of hugs; Felix, who encourages bad behavior and is always down for any adventure; and Emily, who is constantly bringing light into rooms and making people laugh; everyone in the Demands Group, who constantly challenge me to think and grow and push against injustice; and so many others. You each rock my world. I’m lucky I found such wonderful friends who encourage me to be a better person all the time by fighting for what’s right, having important conversations, and learning the answers to potential Tuesday night trivia questions. I don’t know how I would have survived this past year without you. Seriously, to each and every one of you – you rock my world.
Kat – My Kenya Companion
Kat and I went to college together, but I think a major point in our friendship was the trip we took to Kenya. We did a project with a western Kenyan community to help girls gain access to the feminine hygiene products they needed to stay in school, maintain health, decrease environmental waste, and create local jobs. Kat was the only person I had contact with for weeks at a time who knew where I’d come from and what I was about, and her support during that period was everything I needed. Since then she’s made me laugh harder than anyone else (my favorite stories are stories about something ridiculous Kat did) and inspired me with her generosity, compassion, honesty, and love for others. Now she’s all married and stuff but that can’t keep me away. What a gal.
Alyssa – The Deb To My Flo
Alyssa and I shared a bedroom for two years in undergrad and during that time I learned so much about how to chase after ambitious dreams – it’s one of the things she does best! I’ve written about my friendship with Alyssa before, but I can’t rave about this girl and her impact on me enough. Thanks for your loyalty and love, girlfriend. You’ll always be so special to me.
Allison – The Compass In My Storms
You know those people you can call at any moment with a crisis and they’ll drop everything to see you through it? That’s Allison to me. She’s the wisest person I know and the best at loving others. I aim to be more like her every day. She exhibits a genuine commitment to being a quality person all the time.
Lizzie – My Longest Friend
Lizzie and I have known each other since our Nancy Drew computer game playing, pet rock owning, bad haircut sporting days. If you know Lizzie you know what it means to laugh harder than you ever thought you could. She gets me into the most random situations and I adore her for it. Lizzie is someone I’ll treasure for the rest of my life. Thanks for being such an amazing friend.
My Family! – The People Who Gave Me Life
Gotta love good ol’ Mom and Pops. From the get-go, these two have encouraged me to go after my wildest dreams and have always cheered for me in everything I did. Thanks for letting me reach high and think outside the box. The lessons you’ve taught me are so invaluable and I’m grateful to have you as parents.
Of course, there are so many more people I could list here that have impacted me in incredible ways, but then this list would be way too long (and it already kind of is!). The shorter version of this post is that I am very thankful for all the individuals who have given me their friendship. I couldn’t do this life thing without you.
I’d love to hear about your social circles! Who has impacted you the most in life?