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And this is why we are friends…

How an impromptu trip to Scrub Island, British Virgin Islands reminded me of a few learnings about friendship.

Photo by Luke Bender on Unsplash
Photo by Luke Bender on Unsplash

As I walked towards a gate in the Vancouver International Airport, with my carry on luggage in tow, a small smile crept onto my face. For the first time in my short history of being a freelance writer, I was given a plus one on a press trip. As much as I love having the ability to meet new people with shared interests, I enjoy sharing the benefits of my hard work with those in my inner circle. A sort of repayment perhaps, as these people have seen me grow up and supported me through all the highs and lows.  When I first was offered the idea of a plus one, a short list of friends immediately popped into my head. This list was comprised of friends who have helped me shape some of my favourite characteristics as a person and the lessons that lie within.

Sense of Adventure

On April 16 I sent this text to my friend…

Me: Hey lady! What is the likelihood that you can get a few days off between April 27-May 1 to be my plus one to travel to Scrub Island?

On April 17 she texted back…

Friend: Your preferred dates will work for me. 28-1. Let me know what I need to do. 

Two years earlier, I asked the same friend as we roamed the streets of New York on a warm summer evening if she ever climbed Mt. Fuji. A month later we were freezing mountainside cursing under our breath as we watched the sunrise from the summit. It was probably the most athletic thing I have completed to date. 

Everyone needs at least one friend who has the ability to match your sense of adventure, spontaneity and possibility – or at least draw it out of you. It doesn’t matter how short notice, or how outrageous the request is – they are present. This is not to say they are irresponsible, or they never say no to things. They subscribe to the philosophy that life is short and collecting memories is valuable.

Being open to adventures has helped me navigate life when I encounter roadblocks, barriers or miss-steps in my everyday. Often a reset can be seen as negative, but it can also reframe scenarios to discover the other avenues. After my book was published, it was optioned for a show – and while nothing immediately came out of that avenue, my time spent in New York helped build a freelance writing portfolio which enabled me to go on many more adventures.

Discipline

One morning, we went for a hike to the top of an adjacent island – Big Scrub. I welcomed the hike, as it was the most active exercise we were doing besides lying on the beach with Rum Punch. I could hardly remember a time when daily exercise was not part of my lifestyle. I can actually thank my ex for introducing my personal trainer into my life. I took his old spot at the gym and have been training for well over 5 years. 

My trainer, who I also consider a friend, has helped me challenge the depth of my own discipline. Completing a challenging workout is one thing. I can mentally push through, even though an exercise might be tough. I know that I need to work hard for the 30-45 min only and it will be over. I found going slow; not stopping has worked well when completing sets with large repetitions. 

When it comes to diet, it’s harder for me to be disciplined. The first time I did a Keto diet with intermittent fasting I was so irate. Cutting out the refined sugar was very hard, as I was used to drinking daily Hazelnut Mochas. Yet, I like seeing how far my own abilities can take me. And sometimes, it takes someone pushing and introducing new challenges to me to test my strength of my mind. 

Vulnerability

My friend and I lead very busy lives and so it was nice to catch up on things while on vacation. We spent time on the private North Beach, chatting about everything from workplace woes and familial considerations. We seem to have the friendship where months could go by without seeing each other and yet we are able to catch up on life as though we haven’t been apart. 

Part of being vulnerable, is sharing the pressure points of life, not just the happy highlights. When you can be honest with your friend about a potentially touchy subject and hear the conversation clearly then you have reached the next level of friendship. At the end of last year, I shared an exchange with a friend that led us both in tears sitting in a middle of a very full restaurant. Months later, I was listening to her speak at her wedding reception crying tears of joy for a good friend. There is something freeing about owning and talking about your feelings candidly without judgement and be able to support each other through a range of emotions. 

I have been grateful that I have made various friends through all aspects of my life and have shared incredible experiences with them.  They have taught me lessons of a lifetime. When you think of your own friends, what lessons have they taught you? How have the people you have kept in your inner circle help develop the person you are today? And more importantly, how have you helped shape rich and fulfilling lives of those around you? 

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