I just got off the phone with an old friend of mine who I haven’t talked to in years. He called me to catch up, and share some appreciation for the way I show up online, which meant a lot to me, because he’s someone I really respect and love.
Then he made a comment I had to push back on.
He said something to the effect of “thanks for taking the time to do this” as if talking to him and having this wonderful deep conversation was a distraction to my day, or an exception to how I spend my time.
I paused and asked “can I get a little philosophical on you?” He said yes.
I told him that our conversation isn’t some distraction or interruption to my life — this is my life.
The foundation of my life is relationships, and being intimately connected to the people I care about is what I live for. Everything else I do is there to serve the intimacy in my life, not the other way around.
I go crazy in my community because I see people de-prioritize quality time with friends like it’s something they’ll do “when they have time”. They don’t set aside quality time to be with people, they don’t learn how to have difficult conversations, they don’t practice being honest and vulnerable — then they wonder why they get depressed.
I got news for you mister busy-pants, your quality of life is directly related to the quality of your relationships. In other words, relationships are really really really really really really fucking important. Do you get it? I mean, I wouldn’t have said “really” 6 times if it wasn’t so important.
So how do you cultivate relationships? I thought you’d never ask. Here is how I do it, but your methods may differ.
1. Give a shit about people’s lives.
When you meet with someone, actually be curious about how their life is, and if you’re not genuinely curious about their life, you may want to ask yourself if you actually want to be friends with them (because the answer is likely “no”).
Real friends effortlessly give a shit about each other.
Which brings me to #2.
2. Spend time with people you give a shit about.
The truth is, you shouldn’t be friends with everyone, but there are certain people out there who really light you up. Those are the people you should be spending time with, and to do that you may actually have to initiate things, especially if they are the kind of people who have a lot of friends.
The problem that I see in my community is that everyone wants connection but almost no one is willing to stick their nose out and initiate it.
I was over a friend’s house the other day and he started complaining about how so many of the events that happen in our community cost money. I agreed with him, but then I asked him what the fuck he’s doing about it.
How many free events have you thrown? How many dinner parties? How often do you invite people to come hang out for no good reason?
Turns out he hadn’t done anything, and I told him to stop fucking complaining and start getting on Facebook and throwing events. Which brings me to #3.
3. Go fucking start something.
It literally could not be any easier to gather people together than it is today. With a few clicks and 3rd grade writing skills you can make a Facebook event and have hundreds of people viewing your invitation.
Remember what it used to be like to get people together? Oh you don’t? Well I was born in 1982 which officially makes me old enough to remember life without cell phones, so let me remind you.
What we used to have to do is call people’s houses and talk to them, which was hard because sometimes they weren’t home, so we’d have to leave a message with their bratty siblings, and if they were home, sometimes someone else (like that bratty sibling) was on the phone. Yeah, there was one fucking phone line, and we had to share it.
Then we’d also do this thing called inviting people to things in person. That’s where you see people out and about (because you’re out and about) and you have a conver-fucking-sation with them where you tell them how awesome your thing is. And you did that over, and over, and over, and over again until you talked to enough people to have an awesome party.
What do we need to do now?
Click, click, type, click, done. And we can’t even do that because we’re so god-damn lazy.
Or maybe my other theory is correct, which is that we’re so out-of-touch with how much we need connection and quality time that we’ve completely forgotten about it in leu of being online all day and snap-chatting everyone.
Further Reading: Lonely Is The New Normal
Anyway, I digress. This is really to say I wish we made relationships more of a priority, because speaking as someone who does, it’s frustrating when it feels like I’m the only one initiating everything.
I don’t think we have to be a philosopher to see how important relationships are, I think we just need to be in touch with our most important and basic of human needs — achievement.
Nah I’m just kidding, but you would think it is, based on how some of us live our lives — god damn it there I go again, ranting my way through another article.
Will you do me a favor? Seriously, I really want you to do this for me, especially if you’ve read this far.
Go to your calendar and pick an evening that you’re free. Now go on Facebook and click “create event”. Make up a cool title, something like “Dinner Party Cause Dinner Parties Are Awesome”, then write some funny shit in the description and invite 50 people you’d actually like to spend time with.
Chances are you’ll get about 8-10 people that RSVP “going”, and if you don’t get that many, invite more people. Tell everyone to bring food, and ask if anyone has food allergies (that’s what people do these days).
And that’s it.
You’ve instantly made your life better, and it probably took you no more than 20 minutes. Then — get off Facebook and go fucking hug someone.
Got something to say? We’re listening. Join the discussion on the Facebook thread.