You are who you are because of everyone you have been before. Yes, we are always fundamentally the same person, but we evolve during every stage of life. We continue to build upon our base persona until the day we die. Being with old friends helps connect us with the journey that helped us become the people we are today.
Our oldest friends have walked hand-in-hand with earlier versions of our self. Versions that are each a valuable piece of the puzzle that makes us whole. Being with people who loved us through it all - the ups and the downs - usually feels pretty nice. These people bring a breath of youth along with them. They remind us of what it felt like to be us at different points in life… what it felt like to wonder… what it felt like to learn… what it felt like to be happy, sad, disappointed or surprised… and what it felt like to grow throughout our lives. They help us understand and know ourselves better because because they know who we were and where we came from.
Here are a few reasons why old friends are so important to our journey through life.
Old friends aren’t family. Most people have a family that loves them… if they’re lucky, that is. But often, without meaning to and because they want the best for us, family members have expectations for us. And expectations, even well-meaning expectations, tend to put pressure on a person. Old friends love us like family but without the expectations. There’s no pressure to be anything other than who you are with an old friend who loves you.
Old friends inspire peace and smiles. Simply sharing stories with an old friend is sure to put a smile on your face or provide a sense of peace. It doesn’t matter what story may be, it feels good to talk about an event or moment in life with someone else who was around to experience it with you. It might be something remembered by only one friend who then reminds the other. It might be a momentous occasion that brought one or both friends feelings of joy and pride or of grief and sadness. Walking through the past is a release. It opens us up and our souls seem to breathe deeper.
Old friends are not our mirrors. Old friends can be very different from each other - even polar opposites - and still somehow accept and love each other. They don’t compete, compare, or covet. They don’t have to agree or convince. They don’t even have to share any of the same interests. You can be exactly who you are with our old friends and they can be exactly who they are with you. And that is a very comfortable feeling.
Old friends don’t care about the frills. An old friend sees beyond our accomplishments or lack of them. They see us for who we are at our core. They love us despite our flaws and they are not in awe of our achievements. We could be the president of a company or make a living selling street art. Old friends do not care. An old friend loves you… period.
Old friends are a warm blanket. Think about all the disappointments, frustrations, and pain our old friends have seen us through. Think about how good it feels to see that person’s face when you are feeling down. How it feels to just sit next to the person, whether talking or sharing silence. It helps and sometimes heals. Old friends make us feel better just because we know how much they love and care about us. Nothing has to be said. Nothing has to be done. Just their existence in our lives has a settling, restoring effect… like being wrapped up in warm blanket.