Conversations About Friendship

“The only way to have a friend is to be one.”  – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Taryn and Aubrey met in March 2015 at Alpha Sigma Alpha’s Leadership Consultant interview weekend (both of us admit that we stalked each other online beforehand as well – oops). Taryn remembers saying something near the end of the weekend about the fact that “a few of us might become best friends!” Aubrey probably thought that was weird, cheesy and most likely wrong, but life has a funny way of coming back full circle and proving you incorrect. A few weeks later, we both accepted the job, and a couple of months later started packing for our year of travel. Consultant training was an intensive 8-week experience where we worked together for 8 hours a day, then went back to our hotel home and hung out with each other some more. Needless to say, we became incredibly close very quickly. Fast forward to today: we are both married, working in higher education, still volunteering for Alpha Sigma Alpha and still best friends who rarely go more than a day or two without talking. When approached with the opportunity to write this, we decided to simply have a genuine conversation about the beauty of friendship and reflect on our time as friends. We came up with a few guiding questions and then spent an hour on Zoom talking. We invite you to check out how our conversation went!

What does finding “dominant beauty in friendships” actually mean?

A: When I think of “dominant beauty,” it feels like something that is always there, no matter what else happens in life. There might be seasons where things get super busy, or communication looks different, or you don’t see each other for a long time. But if we’re finding dominant beauty, we’re agreeing that this is something that will stand the test of our busy lives.

T: I agree, I think that the beauty of a friendship is recognizing that the thing that made your friendship in the first place is always there. While we do not work for Alpha Sigma Alpha anymore, we still are very much involved in it, and even if we weren’t, it was still the thing that brought us together.

A: Yeah exactly! I’ve recently been thinking about the importance of appreciating the little things – there’s not always this huge jazzy or exciting thing about friendship, but the little things that are consistent and make it what it is are the things of beauty.

How do you prioritize growing/changing friendships as you move through different life stages?

A: We’ve gone through life stages at the same time which is interesting! Like grad school, getting engaged and married, career things…we’ve gone through a lot of similar seasons. Something that’s been really helpful to me is realizing that it’s okay to communicate very differently with different friends, and that it doesn’t mean anything about the friendship just because the communication looks different. I have a group of friends where the only way we ever talk is through Marco Polo (a video app), and then you and I literally just text all day every day.

T: Yes! I have close friends all over the country and the most important thing in communication and prioritization of those friendships is knowing when the most important and best time to talk is. For example, I know that in the month of August, you have a couple weeks where you will be incredibly busy with recruitment. You work and have worked in Greek Life at huge schools so it is no small undertaking. I know that my support lies in sending a good luck text, maybe a Venmo for some coffee and letting you decompress at the end of it. I have friendships where the best communication for us is an email, or an Instagram message. Some people I FaceTime with almost exclusively. Everyone has a different method of communication that works for them, and everyone goes through different times in life where your communication levels are different and it is so important to understand that.

How do you cultivate new friendships?

A: As someone who knows this is not my strength – Taryn, you are so good at this! You have such a talent for making people feel welcome and demonstrating how deeply you care about them. Do you ever feel like that’s overwhelming or hard to manage?

T: To me, it is only tiring when I’m the only one reaching out, but overall making and keeping friends is easy for me because I crave new relationships. I know that I love to support and welcome other people into my life so if I am in the position where there are friends to be made, I am doing it! For me, having people I can lean on makes every day and every situation easier so I like to make sure that there is a good base wherever I am. The other kind of weird thing about me is that I want all my friends to be friends. So I basically force all my friend groups together until they can be friends without me. That is success to me!

A: I also think that I’m at a place where I’ve realized how meaningful it is to have different types of friends, and that they don’t all have to fit that bill of “super close friends.” I am a person who only has a few super close friendships, and I don’t feel like I have the capacity to cultivate more close friends at this point. That being said, I absolutely have room in my friendship “cup” to fill with other types of friends – work friends that I literally only talk to while I’m on campus, church friends that I see once a week during our life group meetings, gym friends that I love seeing every morning and competing with, etc. It took me a while to realize how important it was for me to embrace those different types of friendships, and the fact that they’re all beautiful and meaningful to me.

We’ve got to admit, this is the first time either of us has really sat down and had a direct conversation about friendship with one another as opposed to just experiencing it! Between conversations about the best chili ingredients, recent Netflix viewings and LinkedIn stalking some old friends, we were able to reflect on the parts of friendship that are so sweet and meaningful. Maybe you don’t sit down and game plan for a teen magazine-style blog post about friendship with your friends, but we challenge you to have some intentional conversations about friendship with those you care about – it can really help highlight the little things you love about your friends and remind you to find dominant beauty in the daily parts of friendship.

Taryn Golling James, ΘY
Aubrey Winn Cala, ZZ

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