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It's Five Minute Friday! Each week, the lovely Lisa-Jo posts a prompt and bloggers internet-wide write for five minutes (no stopping, no editing!) and after hitting post and linking up, go forth to share a little comment love. Head here for more details and to join in!

So, there's this online conference happening this weekend called (in)RealLife. The idea is that everyone watches some keynote speakers today on their own, then tomorrow people gather in real life and share community and more conference material. I found a local meet-up, and Adam was going to watch Brooklyn so that I could go... and it got cancelled. Slightly bitter about my wet-blanketed attempt at community, when I saw today's word prompt I decided not to write.

But then I watched the material for today. This year's theme is "We need your story" and that struck me. I love stories - as a child, I jealously guarded the right to tell about adventures I was a part of, reveling in the telling, and I relished hearing the stories of others. Slowly, though, I discovered that very few people are actually willing to listen to someone else's story, being instead too consumed with their own (or, at least, the pretty parts that they think will make them look good, or the martyred parts that will cause you to pity them, or whatever emotion they're trying to evoke).

I had have a shelf of books that are tools for friendship - card making, note writing, crafting... and they're not just there for show. I worked in it - leaving notes and small gifts (especially the we-each-have-one kind), making crafts together, sending little packages... but I slowly began to notice something. No one ever reciprocated. Pre-texting and Facebook, no one would even go to the bother of sticking a stickie note somewhere for me to find (ok, that's not entirely true - one person would tuck notes and flowers onto my car windshield when we lived at the same apartment complex) - and even with texting and Facebook, it can be hard to even get a colon and a right parenthesie (is that a word?) in response.

To me, friendship is about sharing stories - our stories. But it was so hard to find someone who would listen to mine, that I got good at deflecting and asking questions, and just started to assume that no one really did need my story. But the things that have happened to me have happened for a reason, and I'm beginning to see that maybe some of that reason is so that I can share it with others. To share struggles. To share experiences. To share me-toos. To share doubt. To share joy. To share life. Yet, somehow, in all of those years of seeking, searching for a friend --- I forgot how to be one. I forgot that I can't always hide behind a deflecting mirror of questions - that sometimes, even when I'm afraid of what might happen if I open up, someone may actually need my story. Because our stories are how we go from being people-who-know-each-other's-names to friends and sisters, able to support and encourage each other because we know more about each other than what coffee she always orders when we meet at a nearby cafe - we know each other's stories.

I've been inspired to be a better friend, and I plan to start right now. How can you be a friend to those around you?


J Frisbie said…
Sarah Jo - I felt a wave of pain when you typed this line: "I forgot that I can't always hide behind a deflecting mirror of questions - that sometimes, even when I'm afraid of what might happen if I open up, someone may actually need my story."

I, too, was in this place once. So much to share that is easier to keep locked away in a safe place where no one knows. But throughout the last few years I've seen just how helpful these stories can be for others - both hearing theirs and sharing mine. I'm glad that you decided to post today. Your words are a blessing.
trish said…
I love this. It's amazing to read and hear and relate. Thank you for sharing. Here's to new friends, old friends, blog friends, and being a friend!!
Kayla said…
Yes. Yes. Yes.
Austin has become one of those who asks many questions because no one wants to hear his story. He says I was one who did and that's part of why I stood out. :)
I identify with the heartache of wanting to share my story. (I'm not very good at the questions though... I tend to nod and agree/follow along as the other person tells their story.) That's where my current friendship series on Tuesdays was borne out of.

I'm working on being the one who reciprocates -- or initiates, both of which are difficult for me. Thanks for sharing your heart, your struggle, your joy, your passion. It encourages more than your realize.
Karrilee Aggett said…
Sarah Jo - I love this! I am so sorry your inrl was cancelled... I hope you still get to watch it and drink it in tomorrow and then go out and put it all to use! I love that what stands out is that we are called to be friends... to take risk... to cross the room and erase the comfort zone if needed! (I'm doing it with you, friend!)

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