True Friendships in a Barbie World: Revisited

The inevitable end of summer has arrived! Walmarts across the country are being overrun with back-to-school shoppers searching for number 2 pencils, composition books, and the perfect colored Postit note. In the spirit of new beginnings, this week’s blog is a delightful reblog of last year’s article dedicated to the formations of new friendships in the first few moments of the school year. Whether we’re passed a pen in class, selected for a fall sports team, or handed a cup of coffee in the break room, making friends is one of the most challenging and somewhat fearful events of life. Here’s to friendship!

If Barbie is so popular, why do you have to buy her friends? ~Author Unknown

How do we choose our friends?

I think this question is answered according to where you are in life. Granted, I’m a thirty-something who looks back at her charmed childhood with rosy glasses, but I’m going to attempt to define friendship and/or popularity from my perspective.

  • Elementary: It was simple in elementary school. You wanted to be friends with the girl who had the most Lisa Frank items. Tell me you don’t remember those awesome trapper keepers and stickers! And folders. And pencils. And….
  • Junior High: Can we really take junior high popularity seriously? Hormones, pimples, bad hairstyles—let’s just skip to high school!
  • High School: Once you graduate from the upper elementary building and hit the lockered halls of high school, your world changes. Your Lisa Frank collection starts to gather dust, boys are a whole lot cuter, and every night you pray that your Clearasil works. Whatever circle you were in—athletics, drama, academics, pretty people—some were more popular than others.
  • College: In college, you fall into groups that possess similar majors, interests, or personalities. Honestly, I think that as we begin to form our own identity, we realize that our friends are an intregal part of who we are and who we will become.
  • Career: Everything changes once you hit the real world. Or, does it? Considering today’s world of Facebook friends, Twitter followers, online dating, and forum presence, I wonder if we have really outgrown high school mentality of popularity and friendship.

Actually, whatever stage of life we are in, do we really ever grow out of the “Lisa Frank” mentality? Do we surround ourselves with the people that make a difference in our lives, or do continually compare our proverbial trapper keepers? It’s the whole “keeping up with the Jones’” point of view. I don’t want to choose my friends based upon what they can do for me; rather, I want to surround myself with people that inspire me to go deeper into maturity. In contrast to “buying Barbie’s friends,” I’d rather describe my friendships as:

But oh! the blessing it is to have a friend to whom one can speak fearlessly on any subject; with whom one’s deepest as well as one’s most foolish thoughts come out simply and safely.  Oh, the comfort – the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person – having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.  ~Dinah Craik

Whatever stage of life you are in, I hope that you can honestly say that you have this type of friend. True friendship in an increasingly Barbie world is rare; here’s hoping you have found your place in a circle of friends, and that you make a difference in your world together.

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True Friendships in a Barbie World

If Barbie is so popular, why do you have to buy her friends? ~Author Unknown

How do we choose our friends?

I think this question is answered according to where you are in life. Granted, I’m a thirty-something who looks back at her charmed childhood with rosy glasses, but I’m going to attempt to define friendship and/or popularity from my perspective.

  • Elementary: It was simple in elementary school. You wanted to be friends with the girl who had the most Lisa Frank items. Tell me you don’t remember those awesome trapper keepers and stickers! And folders. And pencils. And….
  • Junior High: Can we really take junior high popularity seriously? Hormones, pimples, bad hairstyles—let’s just skip to high school!
  • High School: Once you graduate from the upper elementary building and hit the lockered halls of high school, your world changes. Your Lisa Frank collection starts to gather dust, boys are a whole lot cuter (yet still remain in junior high mentally… funny how that happens! I love you, Dear!), and every night you pray that your Clearasil works. Whatever circle you were in—athletics, drama, academics, pretty people—some were more popular than others.
  • College: In college, you fall into groups that possess similar majors, interests, or personalities. Honestly, I think that as we begin to form our own identity, we realize that our friends are an intregal part of who we are and who we will become.
  • Career: Everything changes once you hit the real world. Or, does it? As a 30-something, living in today’s world of Facebook friends, Twitter followers, online dating, and forum presence, I wonder if we have really outgrown high school mentality of popularity and friendship.

Actually, whatever stage of life we are in, do we really ever grow out of the “Lisa Frank” mentality? Do we surround ourselves with the people that make a difference in our lives, or do continually compare our proverbial trapper keepers? It’s the whole “keeping up with the Jones'” point of view. I don’t want to choose my friends based upon what they can do for me; rather, I want to surround myself with people that inspire me to go deeper into maturity. In contrast to “buying Barbie’s friends,” I’d rather describe my friendships as:

But oh! the blessing it is to have a friend to whom one can speak fearlessly on any subject; with whom one’s deepest as well as one’s most foolish thoughts come out simply and safely.  Oh, the comfort – the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person – having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.  ~Dinah Craik

Whatever stage of life you are in, I hope that you can honestly say that you have this type of friend. True friendship in an increasingly Barbie world is rare; here’s hoping you have found your place in a circle of friends, and that you make a difference in your world together.

My Mirror Says What?

As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man. Proverbs 27:19

As a staff member at a private, liberal arts college, I am constantly reminded about how important friendship is to the outlook and personality of an individual. Friendship, at its core, is the fulfillment of a basic need of companionship. It molds opinions and thoughts, it shapes personlities, it influences futures, and sometimes, even alters the past.

There are three basic types of people: trendsetters, followers, and standalones. Each personality type is unique. A trendsetter is the person who is found at the forefront of discussion, leading the way into new territory and standing as an example to those around them. The follower is the individual who looks to trendsetters to establish their thinking, appearance, and opinion. The standalone is the person who knows who they are, what they want out of life, and how they will accomplish their directives. In my experience, I have found that every individual falls into all three of these character types at one time in their life, and to be perfectly honest, a combination of the three is often a true representation of reality.

While having dinner with a friend last night, we discussed a myriad of topics, but the topic of friendship resonated in my mind, even until my coffee this morning. As a thirty-something in today’s world, I find it hard to schedule time to “hang out” with my friends. Career, husband, church activities, job on the side, and family matters often get in the way of sitting down and chatting with my girlfriends, but when I get the chance, it seriously encourages my heart. Why is this? Why is friendship such an important component to life and sanity? I believe that Proverbs 27:19 holds the key to these questions.

“As in water face answereth to face,” said the Psalmist. In my opinion, that just means that the reflective surface of still water can serve as a mirror. Simple, right? “…so the heart of man to man.” Like our “water mirror,” our hearts reflect when we look at our friends. Whether I am a trendsetter, a follower, or a standalone, my attitude, personality, and opinions are reflected in those with whom I surround myself. It is my duty to evaluate my heart and see if I am reflecting things that I would want to become.

Friendship does more than meet a basic need for companionship; it is an essential building block of human existence. Frienship is a mirror. I want to mirror joy. I want to mirror the relationship of Christianity. I want my mirror to draw others in, to make a difference, to impact lives. I want to mirror what I want to become.

So, it stands to reason that I asked myself (over a second cup of steamy coffee), “Am I an adequate mirror of what I would want someone else to reflect? Does my attitude encourage others to a joyful outlook on life, or am I a negative influence?” Whoever reads this, please keep me accountable. This entry stands as a challenge to my own heart to do my diligence to reflect the love of Christ, a joyful spirit, and an approachable personality.