From time to time there is an online discussion about who should you accept as a friend on facebook and my answer is one I saw given once, that it is someone I would welcome into my home.
There are of course my friends that have nothing to do with my work; my family, neighbours from the past and friends from my church, but this post is about those I meet through my travels and role in the Oracle community.
My friendship definition doesn't mean I always know the people that well, it means that they interest me and I would like to explore that further and would welcome them into my life. I haven't always been like that, my daughter taught me a very valuable lesson a few years ago when she showed me how shallow I was. She came with me to a conference in Finland and not being in IT the conversations she had with everyone were about them. As the week progressed I realised she knew far more about my 'friends' than I did. I only knew their professional side. now I hope I look beyond that and get to know the real person. I wrote about how humbling that is and some of the truly inspirational people I count as friends today.
One of my best friends today is Lisa, a girl I work closely with and I knew NOTHING about her. Another friend described her and I made the effort to really talk to her. How close I came to missing out on this very special friendship.
I am also a worrier and one thing I worry about is do my friends think the same about me? Earlier in my life I remember having so called friends who when I met their wives (I have always worked in a male dominated world) they played the friendship down. A few times that really hurt, did it mean they were shallow, or were their own relationship with their wives that fragile they were threatened by having female friends? So as a worrier that has always been my yardstick for a friendship.
When my marriage failed, I turned to my friends and have had so much support, but not being married made me worry about being a problem. Perhaps again I was being too simplistic, I haven't changed, I have always been a 'touchy feely' person, but I still think a marriage or any committed relationship is sacrosanct and would never overstep that mark. Luckily I have learnt that my friends aren't shallow and that their friendships are true.
My work that allows me to travel, means I do meet a lot of their families who sometimes travel as well, and I am so blessed by this, and I don't expect they know just how much that means to me. Then there is facebook, I often say why I like facebook so much and yet another thing it gives me is the ability to meet their families in a virtual setting, and that takes away much of that 'hidden friendships' I worry about.
So don't read this and think 'she needs help', I don't I have all the help and support I need from my friends. Real friends and I thank them for letting me into their lives at whatever level and pray that in some small way I can repay them.