“I have this dream of being best friends with everyone in the world. I’ve also always been a proponent of using the word “love” more in everyday life. People in general are just a little more scared to use it I guess.”
Those words were from one of the first e-mails exchanged with someone who’s now one of the best friends I’ve ever had. We were just getting to know each other at the time, and he surprised me with saying exactly what I try to live by: tell everyone that means something to you just how much they do. It’s not always easy, though. These days, you need to be cool. Develop a thick skin. Hide your emotions, or the world will eat you up. I’ve always been told I’m more sensitive, or feel much deeper than most. I remember exes telling me to stop crying so much, friends telling me not to invest my heart so much, people telling me that if I didn’t get so emotionally attached, I’d save myself a lot of pain. I was talking to my friend about this again recently—I suppose we’d been talking about our resolutions and hopes for the year ahead, and in talking about my goal of filling 2011 with passion, it brought me back to the topic we’d discussed so early on: going all in. Being as open, authentic, and deep as possible; putting hearts not only on sleeves, but on lapels, buttonholes and pockets, too. Sharing absolutely everything you are without reserve, without fear of judgment. I’ve been told more than once I’m a sort of “all or nothing” type person, when it comes to friendships or relationships. I either connect deeply, or not at all. When the other person is on the same page, willing to look beneath the surface and truly see beyond the realm of what the world may consider “normal”, that connection with another human being can be magical. The Irish have a phrase for “soul friend” I enjoy; a mutual bond built on truly knowing each other’s hearts. No wonder we became such fast friends. I wish it weren’t such a rarity.
Less than a year ago, some of the people I now hold dearest hadn’t yet manifested in my life. Now, I couldn’t imagine life without them. I’d like to think I went all in with them, too—and if you’ve been reading for a while, I tend to do the same thing here. Put absolutely everything out there because that way, the ones who stick around know your authentic self. I thrive on true interpersonal connection—not simply having people around all the time, but having a select few with whom you can share the very depths of your soul. I think as we grow up, we tend to believe what we see all around us—that quantity is better than quality: more money, social interactions, more followers, and more Facebook friends equates to a more ‘successful’ life. We skip the quality in favour of accumulating more quantitatively because that’s what’s normal in our formative adult years, and it leads to a perpetual cycle of chasing that which we believe we lack, and never feeling truly fulfilled. We’ll send text messages rather than picking up the phone; choosing lifeless and ambiguous messages of 140 characters over the real emotion of someone’s voice. We’ll spend hours online rather than visiting a relative, learning someone’s story or creating something meaningful, or experiencing the world. We’ll chat with a friend about work, relationships, or the latest episode of The Bachelor, but we won’t talk about how grateful we are simply that they exist in our lives. And we won’t use the technology created to make us feel more connected to actually… connect. As a group of last year’s troubadours so aptly put it, we are the Battery Human.
I feel so passionately about making the most of the time we’re given, knowing it could all be taken away tomorrow. So, at the risk of defying social normalcies and at the risk of having it trampled, I put my heart out openly to anyone who enters my life, and give it freely to those who stay. It’s taken a beating over the years, and it’s probably got a few more battle scars to come, but at least, at the end of it all, I can say I lived without reserve. I used up all the love I had and spread it to everyone who mattered. Because what good is having amazing people in your life if you never let them know how you feel? If your best friend, or a beloved relative were to be gone tomorrow, if they’ve had any sort of impact on your life at all, if they’ve ever been there for you through something tough, or if they’ve ever encouraged to believe in yourself or follow a dream… the best way to say thank you is to just be transparent. Pour your heart out to your loved ones and let them know how much they mean. Someone did this for me, recently, and it left me speechless; every gratitude I couldn’t voice in words bundling together to launch in streams from my eyes instead. A dear Internet friend I’ve yet to meet in person did it again today. Words truly cannot do justice to the feeling of warmth and appreciation I felt in reading these posts. People don’t do that, these days; they don’t tell each other they’re loved. People keep their hearts in cages locked tightly by the fear of what other people may think. And to see someone offer such displays of friendship and emotion felt incredible, and I was left with a sense of deep gratitude, of worth, of true blessing, and a sense that I want absolutely everyone I care about to feel the very same way. They say that to the world, you may be one person, but to one person, you may be the world. If there’s anyone like that in your life, why not take a moment to tell them?
I hope my friend continues his dream of being best friends with everyone in the world. If you have a friend, why not give them the very best you can? I hope he continues to use the word “love” more in everyday life, too. I’m going to try to do the same. People may be scared to use it, but I don’t think anybody in the world wouldn’t appreciate feeling… appreciated.