Saturday, February 25, 2006

5 Friends Every Woman Should Have...

Recently my buddy, Ellison wrote a blog, that you can find here, about a conversation her, Her[r], and I all had during a car ride together. I want to elaborate more on that conversation and share a little more about how this conversation topic came to be with me.

Ellison was correct in saying that this topic was Oprah related; however, it was not something I got off of her show, but rather out of the May 2005, 5th Anniversary of her “O” Magazine. This was actually the first of the “O” Magazines that I ever bought. I wanted it because is had several “5 Lists” in it in honor of the 5th Anniversary edition. The 5-List that caught my eye the most was the “Five Friends Every Woman Should Have.” Valuing friends as I do, I had to read this and see if I had my “five friends.”

After I read the list, I honestly disagreed that those were the five most needed types of friends. Still today, I think I would make a different list of five, because I think the list depends on your own personal lifestyle and personality. Nonetheless, here is the “Five Friends Every Woman Should Have” list, as created by Michelle Burford, in “O” Magazine:

This woman’s favorite word: yes. You could tell her you’re trading your six-figure income for a career in offtrack betting, and she’d barely pause before yelping, “Go for it!” Don’t you need someone who looks past the love handles to notice the extraordinarily gorgeous you? P.S. Call her when your knees knock before a huge adventure or your voice quivers after a nasty breakup. She’s standing by to remind you how magnificent this planet became the moment you arrived on it.

When the hotel in St. Lucia is a bust and the itinerary in Switzerland falls to bits, one characteristic becomes all-important: flexibility. This agreeable companion need not be the girl you traded pinkie swears with on the playground; it’s enough that she’s comfortable with quiet (between gabfests) and is a teensy bit mischievous (as in tequila after midnight).

Intent is what separates the constructive from the abusive. Once you’ve established that the hard news is spoken in love (not in jealousy or malice), you’d be smart to seek out this woman’s perspective. Given that I shriek at the mention of ratios and decimals, it was the wrong career choice. Patients around the world are still alive because my best friend of 15 years dared to speak.

One Saturday a pal and I – and yes, we’re both over age 12 – pored over every glitter lip gloss in a drugstore aisle for an entire 45 minutes. Forget the crisis download (for that, see the Uplifter); this partnership is about spontaneous good times. She’s your gal when you wan to catch a matinee on a whim, get a pedicure in a daring color, or loaf around all day in pj’s (she hadn’t planned to stay overnight, but why not?).

Since the year in college when I roomed with a cowherd from Nebraska (I now know how to lasso), I’ve understood the value of having at least one randomly selected buddy. “Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive,” Anais Nin wrote. My friends – some twice my age, others half, some rich, others homeless, some black like me, others Korean, Mexican, Caucasian – have added richness to my life that only variety can bring. Try it. Even if you don’t walk away with a soul mate, you may learn which hand you should never, ever use when sharing a platter of Ethiopian food (your left).

So that’s her list. Don’t get me wrong. I think those are all great types of friends to have. I suppose the one that really had me disagreeing with the list was “THE TRAVEL BUDDY” one. I believe that is because I’m not really a big traveling fan, so I am perfectly content with my life not having a special “travel buddy” friend distinguished in my mind. I guess that was what I meant by lifestyle and personality preferences. And also, I suppose I feel some of my friends that meet one of these categories, meet more than just one of them. Those were my two minor disputes with the list I suppose…

Having gotten those out, there is one of the five listed that I would agree with day-in and day-out as a very important type of friend that every woman should have in her life. That was the friend type that I spent much of the time conversing about with Ellison and Herr; that friend type being “THE TRUTH TELLER.”

I challenge you to give this one some thought yourself, as Ellison eluded too in her blog. Think about it. Do you honestly have a “truth teller?” Let me try to give you a better description, because a friend that you have that is simply an honest person is not what is being referenced here…

This friend is the one that tells you the truth because it is what you need to hear. They tell you the truth when you ask. Most likely, you will not even have to specify that you “want the honest truth,” because you have no doubt that that is what they will give you.

Deep down this person is not being honest with you because of their value for honesty, but because they know that the truth will set you free, even if it hurts at first. They tell you the truth not out of their respect for honesty, but because they know that that is what is best for you to hear.

Even at this point, you might be thinking, “Oh yeah, I have several friends like that. They always tell me the truth and are honest with me about questions I ask them.” But I think this is where it gets deeper and you will really have to think and ask yourself the question, “Do I really have a friend like that?”

This is the friend that will tell you the truth when you don’t ask for it. They know when you need to hear the truth, whether you want it or not. They are the friend that will confirm the truth that you feared, and then they will help you to honestly understand it for what it’s worth.

I think the two main distinguishing characteristics for a “truth teller” are these:

1.) This friend is someone you feel you could ask ANYTHING to and get their honest truthful opinion on the matter. They will not sugar-coat something in hopes of not hurting your feelings. They will not hold back because they fear you can’t handle it. They will not hesitate to tell you what they really feel to be the truth.

2.) This friend is someone that you have a deep standing foundation to your friendship. One that is established on a love and respect for one another that will not falter under the difficult conditions that the truth can sometimes bring with it. This friend does not have to worry about whether their telling you the honest truth will hurt your friendship. They know the purpose behind their telling you the truth is meant to better you and they tell you it out of love, reassured that you will love them for being honest with you.

I truly believe #2 is the one that sets “THE TRUTH TELLER” apart from all your other close, honest, truthful friends, since we all probably have several of those.

Oh how easy it is to readjust what we might say to someone out of fear of how they might take it or what it could do the friendship you both share. The “truth teller” shouldn’t have this fear, or have to give a second thought to how you might react toward them because of the truth. It’s one thing to not be happy about the truth, but it’s another to not be happy with the person that tells you the truth. “THE TRUTH TELLER” knows that if you’re not happy it is toward the truth and not toward them.

I’m a huge fan of honesty, so I’ve taken a lot of interest in the topic of “THE TRUTH TELLER.” The more I thought about it, and came up with what I thought really distinguished the TRUE “truth tellers” from all my other honest friends (the criteria I gave you above), I was able to think of one friend that came to mind.

Don’t get me wrong, I have probably a good 5 or 6 people that come to mind, that I think I could go to for a majority of my questions and get honest answers from them, but when it comes down to just about ANY question I can think of and take it to those 5 or 6, only one of them stands out in my mind as someone I think I would not have to doubt I was getting the truth from her.

I think this individual is set apart from the others because she does not fear losing our friendship over telling me the truth based on the foundation we have built our friendship on.

I am very thankful for having a friend like this. The more I thought about it, and realized just how important and limited these types of friendships are, I was quick to let her know how much I appreciated this quality of our friendship.

I encourage you to think about this topic. If you have a “truth teller” among your friends, let him/her know how important that friendship is to you. Remind them often that you appreciate being able to come to them and expect and get nothing but the truth.

If you can’t think of a “truth teller” among your friends, do not fret. I will be the first to tell you that it does not mean you are not hanging out with the “right” kind of people. That isn’t that at all. It is not a “kind” of people, but rather a characteristic of a friendship. You have to develop it within the friendship by building a foundation that is strong and you don’t have to worry about the truth hurting how you view one another. Honestly, I think that foundation is built on respect, love, and, of course, honesty. You’ve probably got some honest friends. Work on those friendships, you might be able to get a “truth teller” out of one of those, if you really want too.

When you can tell someone exactly what you believe to be the truth without having to worry about how it will affect your friendship, THAT is when you know you have a “true friend” that will tell you the truth and help to set you free!

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