They say it takes a village, and while I know that the statement refers generally to raising kids, I am finally starting to understand that it really should apply to all of life. Getting through life can be rough, especially when you try and go it alone. Imagine having no one beside you to celebrate your victories, or cry through your failures.
How about setting goals, but having no one to help keep you accountable? And lord knows that in this military life we need the biggest village we can find in order to help pack and unpack for the millionth time, watch kids when last minute emergencies pop up, and bring by a stiff drink when we hear that deployment has been extended again.
So how do you decide what type of villagers you need around you? I’m not sure that there is an equation to success with that, but here is who I find important in my village.
1. The pajama and coffee friend
This is the person that you don’t have to be anything but yourself with. They are there any time of day, don’t care what your house looks like, and they have no issues with you running over make-up free to have a vent session. For me this friend was hard to find. Not because I lack people in my life, but because I have a hard time letting my hair down (or in this case pulling it into a messy bun) and leaving the house looking anything but company ready.
But these friends, and I do have just a tiny handful of them, are the ones that I know I can go to and find honesty, love, and a good laugh. They are there for girl’s day at the foot spa and I am all too happy to go over and see them right after the birth of their newest baby. I may not want my own kiddos, but the pajama and coffee friends are welcome to put their newborns on my chest long enough to get a shower and eat a meal with both hands.
2. The celebration friend
In the days where social media is taking over every aspect of our lives, it is easy to feel as if everything we do is a competition. It makes it hard to know who to tell when you do something that is really worth celebrating because if you’re like me you either A) feel guilty about doing something that your friends haven’t achieved of B) feel like you’re still not as good as the people who post their perfect Pinterest lives. I am working on getting over that and learning to celebrate my victories, even when they are small, because of my celebration friends.
They are the ones that send care packages full of pink pens for me to grade assignments in my very first classroom. They are the ones that bring balloons and hand written cards to your office for your promotions. They are the ones that want to come to the housewarming party because you finally managed to become financially responsible and purchase your first house. Even if they aren’t where they want to be yet in their goals, they understand that you achieving yours doesn’t diminish them and their worth.
3. The honest to a fault friend
We all have those friends that tell us we look good in anything we try on or that we can pull off the newest hair fad. And while those friends are wonderful for the ego, we need the friends that are going to be blunt with us even when we don’t want to hear it. These friends are the ones that reach out when they see us starting to go down a bad road in our lives. They call us out when we have made potentially harmful decisions and they don’t accuse us of being idiots, but they let us know we may not be making sound decisions.
They are the ones that tell us when an unhealthy relationship is getting out of hand or when we are getting too close to the line of addiction. I know these may be extreme examples, but I will be honest with you, I wish I had friends like this when I was younger. I managed to get myself in major money trouble trying to keep up with the Jones’ and no one was brave enough to look at me and tell me I was setting myself up for failure. Now I have those friends and know that they will help me take a hard look at my life and see if I am doing more harm than good to myself and my family. Often times we hear people say “don’t judge me….” But these friends are here to do just that.
They will keep you on track, even when it might hurt your feelings because not everything in life is all sunshine and rainbows. After all, science tells us we can’t have rainbows without some rain so having friends that are willing to rain on you for the sake of growth are as priceless as that leprechaun goal at the end of the rainbow.
4. The faithful circle of friends
Now this part if you aren’t religious you can take the God out of and it will still apply, but for me personally, my faith is something that helps keep me grounded and the people I know from church certainly keep me accountable. Recently we have been going through a series on creating new habits and what will keep us on track with them.
One of the biggest things that is emphasized is that it is hard to make new habits when we have no one to keep us accountable for them. We need to pick who we do life with and make sure we are telling those people are goals, our resolutions, and out life changes in order to help us stick to our guns.
We talk often about how “the rows don’t know” which means that when we are in large groups of people, such as at work or church, the crowd has no clue what we are really doing with our lives but our small groups, our life groups, are people we trust enough to be honest with. For me my small group is my church softball team. We are a group of 20-ish people who check in with each other even on the off season.
We help each other move, we celebrate new babies, new marriages. We grieve when players lose parents, we send care packages to those about to deploy. We are a family group that looks to each other for help in life, in love, and in maintaining our faith in a way we can be proud of.
Like I said, there is no equation for what makes the right village. These friends, this is my village. The equation that works for me. But what about you?
Who is in your village? Who gets you through the good, the bad and the ugly?