I was looking for something on my phone today, and I came across this picture of Tegan with one of her good friends. I adore this photo. They’d just wrapped their final performance of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, and were still very much riding their post-performance high.
What’s remarkable about this picture is that it’s not remarkable. What I mean by that is that if you’ve ever seen any picture of Tegan with her friends, you’ll see that they all have the same joy, the same authenticity, and the same fierce, fierce love.
Of all the lessons that I’ve learned from Tegan (and there have been, and continue to be, a LOT) this lesson of friendship is one of the most powerful. I look at her and I see the kind of friendships I want to have. I look at her and see the kind of friend I want to be. I’ve truly never seen someone love so completely, so purely, and so unabashedly. That girl would walk through fire for her friends and not give it a moment’s hesitation.
I think part of what makes it so fascinating to me is that she is a true extrovert, where I’m the most introverted of introverts. She lives, and loves, out loud. She’s affectionate. She’s bold. You never, ever have to guess where you stand with her. If she knows you and loves you? You’ll know it.
I’m much more cautious, and (as much as I hate to admit it) far more jaded. I can’t love like I’ve never been hurt, because…. well, because I have been hurt. Deeply. And recently. I have trust issues. I have intimacy issues. I just have issues.
Tegan, though: That girl is fearless when it comes to friendship, and I so, so admire that! Here are just a few of the things I’ve learned from her about being a friend.
- Don’t be afraid of making new friends. To Tegan, every new person she meets is a potential new friends. To me, every new person I meet is a potential new person that is going to eventually kick the shit out of me, or perhaps even worse: a potential friendship that I am eventually going to screw up, wreck, or otherwise sabotage because that’s just what I do. (I told you. JADED.) But I’m learning from Tegan to not be afraid.
- Be generous. Tegan is one of the most generous and thoughtful people I know. She loves to write her friends notes, give them little gifts, send them emails that will encourage them when they’re down. She is so purely generous, with no conditions, and no ulterior motives. The girl just has a huge, huge heart.
- Be transparent. Like I said up above, there is absolutely no mistaking it when she knows and loves someone. She is so beautifully open and honest about her feelings, about her relationships, and about her love. If she loves you, you know it. She’s not afraid to say it, and she’s not afraid to show it.
- Be affectionate. Somewhere along the way, I got the reputation of not being a hugger. But I am, I am a hugger! I think it’s just that it doesn’t come as naturally to me as it does to Tegan. It’s hard to catch a picture of Tegan with her friends where they don’t have their arms around each other, or aren’t hugging, or aren’t holding hands. I’ve tried to be more open about this for myself as I’ve gotten older – I am a hugger! – and lo and behold it turns out that platonic affection is actually really, really nice.
- Love deeply. I’m actually good at this one. It might take me awhile, but once I love, I love hard. I trust hard. I’m deeply loyal. The difference between me and Tegan is that she does so with no caveats, and no reservations. For me, no matter how good or how right a friendship might feel, I always start with a tiny voice in the back of my head, ranging in intensity from a quiet whisper of “Tread with caution; you may get hurt here”, to a loudly screamed, “Abort! Abort! Nothing good can possibly come from this!!” And even if things do go well, I’m, well I’m paranoid, especially in the beginning. Did I say something wrong? Is she upset with me? Have I been too annoying lately? It’s … sad. And I’m so happy for Tegan that she has no such hang-ups. That is perhaps my favorite part of watching her with her friends. She is ALL-IN, with tiny no voices advising her otherwise.
One of the many (many many many) things I never knew before I became a parent was how much I would learn from my kids. How much they’d teach me. How much they’d inspire me. Watching Tegan is helping me to be more open. More trusting. More loving. More authentic. More bold. And it’s one of the best things I never knew I always needed.