By Sumiti Mehta
Born and raised in India’s modern metropolitan capital city, New Delhi, I grew up in a community and a house filled with people I love (Friends, grandparents, family, cousins). So, emotionally rich relationships seemed normal. You would have family and friends to lean on for sharing happiness, anxiety, and sadness.
Moving to Sacramento in 2009 made us happy. We knew it had a well-diverse community, and this could be a way to connect and socialize frequently; we did feel that we fit in the community seamlessly, but the need to communicate and connect at a deeper emotional or intellectual level was missing for a few years. It felt almost like how we are more networked in today’s world than ever and still isolated.
Having good friends and friendships is more important than we think, especially during the transition points in our lives, around our 30’s and 40’s. Good friends enrich your life in many ways; they teach you about yourself and challenge you to be better. The fact is we all talk about the standards for relationships, be it romantic or for a life partner, but not as much for the friends we keep.
I gave this a thought, and here is what I have learned:
I have become selective of who I allow into my circle.
Through my personal experience over the years, especially during tough times, I have learned that I have to be selective of who I allow in my friendship circle. I think of this space as sacred, where I can have unequivocal mutual trust without fear of judgment. Over the last year, I reevaluated my friendships almost as a snake would shed skin. This process was challenging and therapeutic for my mind and my soul.
Do the people we call friends spark joy in us?
Marie Kondo, author of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” talks about the relationship with objects — but I feel it is also true for our friendships or other relationships. To feel positive and inspired, we should always surround ourselves with friends who uplift us and avoid compromising our values to fit in a group or circle, be it a Moms group or PTA group. I have always stood behind friends who need support and help in any which way I could. I am so grateful that I found my “real friends” during my campaign. These were the friends who stood for me and cheered for me, and supported me in every way they could. Lesson learned that amazing friendships grow by loving and supporting unconditionally.
What do we value in a friendship?
What expectations do we have of friendships — what are the qualities we look for in friends, and are these the qualities we possess? If we attract what we are, are we the best versions of ourselves to draw that in friendship? For me, it has always been honesty, kindness, and unconditional support. We choose to be happy, and life is too short of having friendships that seem like more work than joy.
There should always be mutual respect and have something in common.
It is true of some friendships that we have had something in common at a certain point in our lives, and we remain friends because of those shared experiences or common interests. Do we continue to have common interests, and is there reciprocity in the respect we have for each other? The answer, in my case, is yes.
These friendships didn’t happen automatically; it was the repetitive time spent together, like how we had friends growing up. These friends met me at different places and phases of my life. Some at my son’s school, some in community events, but we make sure to figure out a way and reason to meet outside of those settings till the day.
I love and treasure all these wonderful women I call friends; they have helped me find a purpose and meaning. The understanding, support, likeness, and emotional bonds I have in my friendships are unique.