International Friendship Day is celebrated every year on July 30. It was first proposed by the World Friendship Crusade in 1958, as part of the international organization’s campaign to promote peace through friendship. In 2011 it was officially adopted as the International Day of Friendship by the United Nations. In some countries, including the United States and India, Friendship Day is also celebrated on the first Sunday of August.
One of the things I love most about solo travel is meeting new people and making new friends around the world. As a not-shy introvert, my energy is drained by crowds of people but I enjoy getting to know people and discovering our commonalities one-on-one. When I move to Portugal in the fall making new friends will be a top priority. I can’t wait!
International Friendship Day reminds me not only of new friends I’ve made and will make through traveling, but also of friends here at home. Since my 50s I’ve lost six friends, including two who were like sisters, to cancer and disease. These women were around my age or younger when they died. One still-living friend joked that being my friend is dangerous. Another four friends have moved out of state. My best friend lives in a different city in my state. Locally, my small, eclectic group of friends is currently loosely divided into even smaller “crews” that don’t really mix. Teacher crew; distillery crew; childhood/family crew; other-women-I-like crew. As I prepare to move abroad I am celebrating with each of these “crews” separately, and the introvert in me likes it that way.
I wrote here about changing friendships in midlife. Some friendships that flourished as part of a married couple withered when the marriage ended. Same with some friendships forged as mothers of school-age children. Once the children left the nest so did the friendship. Interestingly, platonic friendships with men seem to be more durable than friendships with women. Why do you think that is? I wonder if it’s because midlife women — especially those of us who are single — are dealing with a lot more stress than men, and that can wear on friendships as priorities change. Menopause is a bitch (post-menopause isn’t any better). And then there’s caregiving for aging parents, which often falls on midlife daughters. Making time for friends…and feeling like making time for friends…well…that can be a challenge as we age.
So here’s to making time for friends, making new friends, and treating yourself as you would a best friend. Happy International Friendship Day, wherever you are in the world.
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