Collect Silver Dollars
Updated: Mar 15, 2021
We are often fooled by the idea that more is better, but is it?
When my daughters started worrying about things like friends, being popular, and having a social life, they started to remark on what they considered my lack of friends. At one time or another they have all told me I have "no friends." Of course this is not true, but they were judging from their youthful perspective that having lots of friends is everything. For young people, the number of friendships they have is often a scale for how well they are doing. If they have lots of friends and social engagements, then they are perceived to be doing well. If they have fewer friends and opportunities to socialize, it is assumed they are struggling in some way. It isn't clear to me why so much value is put on this one metric, particularly because I have never really bought into it.
I have never had a large group of friends. Even when I did hang out with one group or another on a regular basis, they were always smaller more intimate groups; I was never part of a group 20 "best friends" for example. When I was in high school, I usually got invited to parties because I was friends with one or two people there, and then I would spend the night standing alone and then leaving early. I do not remember a time when trying to fit into a crowd wasn't an exhausting effort for me.
As I entered adulthood I came to realize that when starting a new job, or when my kids started school and participating in activities, I was not seeking friendships with other parents. I did not want to be friends with my coworkers, I had no interest in going out for drinks after work, or going to the gym at lunch. I was friendly and professional, but I liked separation between my personal life and work life. The same went with events surrounding my kids. I was hesitant to become friends with other parents lest we had a disagreement and it harmed the friendship between our kids, or the kids had a fight and it harmed the friendship I had with the parent. Best, in my opinion for our or social lives not to intersect. Plus, I was wasn't looking for nor did I need more friends.
Maintaining relationships with people takes a lot of effort. In order to be a good friend, you must remember important dates, you have to reach out on a regular basis, you need to make time to visit, and you have to be prepared to listen even when you don't have the energy to. I have always felt I could only manage to give this level of attention to my close family and friends. Whenever I tried to bring someone new into my life, I ended up dropping the ball on staying in touch. There just never seemed to be enough hours in the day, energy in my body, and money in my wallet to socialize.
But I am okay with that. More than okay. My husband is my closet friend. We spend most of our time together and are exceptionally compatible. Of course we argue and have times when we get under each other's skin, but we spend an inordinate amount of time together, so I don't find that surprising or worrisome.
I also have several friends who have been a meaningful part of my life since I was in my teens. Sadly they are scattered across Canada and the US now, but despite time or distance, the bond is strong and never breaks. These are people who truly know me, with whom I never have to put up a façade. They were there when I was an insecure, emotional teenager. They were there when I split up with my oldest biological daughter's father. They were there when I got married and had my babies. I have always been able to pick up the phone any time of day or night if I need an ear, or help, and they have all always been there. I cherish each of them. In many ways I am closer to them than family. And they are enough. I already feel like I don't see or talk to them enough, I don't need the added pressure of having to keep up with dozens of other people.
At heart, I am a bit of loner. I enjoy solitary pursuits. For a wife, mother, daughter, and grandmother, this can be tough. I feel guilty that I don't put myself out there more. I feel like I should want to spend hours upon hours with my family, and socializing with neighbours, coworkers, and other collected acquaintances. I wonder if there is something wrong with me that I don't really like to talk on the phone. And I think sometimes that my solitary nature has pushed my girls away a bit. Perhaps over the years they have gotten the impression that I don't want to see them or spend time with them. Of course this isn't the case, but I am trying to be more aware and understanding of how others might perceive me.
But here's the thing, in things and in people I have always preferred one silver dollar over 100 pennies. That's not to say that pennies don't serve a purpose and can be pretty nice to have sometimes, but overall, I nice shiny, silver dollar is preferred. I want quality relationships that are open and honest. I don't want to have to worry about how I look, or if my house is clean, or even if used a politically incorrect statement. I want to share my time with people who know me and love me anyways. People who give me the benefit of the doubt, and trust that where they are concerned my heart is always in the right place. My silver dollar friendships provide me with this. I am hoping eventually my relationship with my daughters will grow into the same thing. I want to be their silver dollar as much as they are mine.