By Kirby Trahan
One of my best girlfriends, Lindsey, blew me off for a year before we became friends. We’d make plans time after time, and time after time she would break them for one reason or another. I should have given up multiple times, but for some nagging reason, I didn’t. Finally, she kept her word. She showed up at my house and the first thing I said to her was: “You’ve really been a bitch to lock down! If you blow me off again, I won’t try again.” We ended up going for a two-hour walk and opening up to each other about deeply personal things. To this day, she is one of my go-to people when I need an unconditional and non-judgmental ear.
We were hanging out by the pool this past weekend, and she looked at me out of nowhere and thanked me. “For what?” I asked. She said over the past few years, she’s become a woman of her word. I smiled.
Years and years ago, before technology, all people had was their word. And if someone was not a person of their word, then they weren’t to be trusted. (A Lannister always pays his debts…) Back in the day there were no phones to call someone with and cancel. If you didn’t show up, the person you let down likely wouldn’t make plans with you again. Today, we get away with texting someone last-minute, not even having the wherewithal to actually pick up the phone. Somehow over time, our society has forgotten how important it is to keep our promises. Is it because we over-promise and over-extend ourselves? How about saying “no” sometimes instead of “yes” all the time, if you may not be able to make good on your commitments? I started saying “no” recently and let me tell you … it feels damn good.
Lindsey was well worth it, and I’m glad I held out for her. I would have missed out on an amazing friendship. Since then, however, I decided to take a personal inventory of my relationships. Whom can I count on? Who shows up? And when they show up, do they bring value? Then I asked myself the same questions about my own behavior.
Robin Dunbar, a professor of evolutionary psychology, came up with a theory in the early 1990s that claims a human being cannot maintain more than 150 relationships, and only five close friendships – due to limitations of brain size, attention span and the time it takes to nurture close friendships. Dunbar recently says he proved his theory using data from the phone records of almost 35 million users and 6 billion calls. So if you feel you are stretched too thin trying to maintain a *#@$-ton of friends, data proves you actually are not MEANT to keep up with more than a handful in a truly authentic way.
This idea of popularity, which of course has been around since the beginning of time, has been magnified by the false validation we get from social media. How many of your thousand Facebook friends would come to your aid if you were in a bad way? Why does the number of likes and comments we get on our posts sometimes overshadow or take precedence over the genuine feeling of real connection? (And yes, I will post the link to this article and read every comment made on it …)
I’m a very flawed human, as most of us are. While I have plenty of faults, I do pride myself on being a woman of my word. I simply don’t cancel plans unless it’s absolutely necessary. And by necessary, I mean I’d have to be on my death bed or pretty close to it. I’ve been lucky to have found a handful of people in my life whom I trust. Not only by trusting them with my thoughts, but with my time.
Our time is one of the most important things we have in this life. Don’t waste it on people who don’t respect it, and offer the same in return.
Or in the words of the Wu-Tang Clan, “Word is bond, yo.”