Collected thoughts on the meaning of friendship
Interviews by Madeleine Dore
Quotes from some of the coworkers at FRIENDS in 2017
A couple of years ago, I spent some months coworking from FRIENDS, a space created by Tina Roth Eisenberg and filled with friendly, open, generous individuals who inspire you to be a little more creative, a little bolder, and a little more believing in yourself.
It was an incredible string of weeks, and now in 2019 I find myself back at FRIENDS and greeted by some of the same friendly faces, and wonderful new ones.
I was reminded of a survey I conducted that I kept dear but didn’t get around to sharing. I was struck by the warmth of the people I had come to know or share lunches with at the space, and I had an inkling they would know a thing or two about friendship.
So, on my final day at FRIENDS in 2017, I spoke to a dozen fellow coworkers to find out their personal meaning of friendship as well as their thoughts on how we fit friends into our lives, and how they can enrich our creative practice.
On the meaning of friendship…
“Friendship is about pushing each other, protecting each other, and celebrating each other.” – Doris Fullgrabe
“As different as my friends may be, to me, friendship is to feel safe with someone.” – Amy Fuller
“Friendship is when you feel like you don't have to do anything, you don’t have to make an event out of spending time together – you can sit on a couch and not feel pressured to talk, you can just lounge.” – Stella Blackmon
“My friendships run deep and I take them seriously. What I love about friends, and how they differ from family, is how candid and raw I can be. There's no limit to what I talk about, or how much of myself I show.” – Tara Goodrum
“There is a difference between a friendly conversation and a real conversation. For true friendship, people need to be current in your life. They are also there to champion you, to give advice and one of the greatest underpinnings of friendships is that they want to see you succeed. Sometimes you feel like you can’t talk about things like success or failure, but you can find places like FRIENDS where it’s empowering to share and very supportive.” – Doris Fullgrabe
“With social media, it’s so easy to call someone you only know from Instagram your friend – and of course you can make a lot of friends that way – but I have learned that there is still nothing better than spending time with someone in real life. Online gives you a certain version of a person and that can be a great start, but spending time with someone in person really enhances your impression – it fills it out with the nuances you’d otherwise miss.” – Wesley Verhoeve
“A true friend is going to give you an honest opinion, but because you trust them, there is a certain level of comfort with that honesty.” – Bobby Jeffries
“I think friendship comes back to trust – there is obviously different levels of that, but to consider someone a friend means you trust them and you are able to be yourself and vulnerable and know that they will be too. In a lot of ways, that can also translate to working with someone because it’s only when ego is left out that you can truly collaborate.” – Dave O’Brien
“The importance of friendship became more obvious to me when I showed my artwork for the first time – so many friends showed up and it was an outpouring of love in both directions. I realised how important having a community and a range of friendships can be to feel creatively supported.” – Hayley Nichols
Listening and sharing…
“I think for a long time I wasn’t exactly speaking my truth or sharing my own thoughts with my friends. For me, listening is so important so that was where all my focus was and I didn’t realise how important my own voice is in a friendship. As I’ve started to say things like, ‘this is important to me and I’m going to talk about it,’ people have really met me there and expanded my own ideas and range of possibility.” – Hayley Nichols
“I think a lot of people can relate to having two tiers of friends. I have my friends who are like family but live far away, and I have my friends who I spend a lot of my social time with. The ones who feel like family are not part of my creative life, but I can talk to them about love and life. I think everybody has two sides to themselves and sometimes they don’t overlap in friendship, but if you are lucky they do.” – Tory Williams
“There are a multitude of friendship types. I used to think a really good friends was someone who could give you a pep talk if you were having a bad time, but then some friends were not as good at that but they were really hilarious, and that’s a different category but just as important.” – Joanna Goddard
“Evergreen friends are the pals you can meet with after a period of time has passed and you can pick up right where you left off. Those are probably the most important friendships I have because there is something between you and this other person or group of people that is strong enough to withstand that time that passes or the distance. It’s important to have those friendships that see you through different phases in your life.” – Christine Sirois
Seeing the person as they are
“Friendship means providing support and love for who the person truly is and not who you think they are, providing support for the person as they are and not you want them to be. Everyone has their flaws and you want people to be able to see them rather than just see a perfect idealised version of you.” – Ruth Temianka
“I have become better at feeling out who will be a positive influence and who might be an energy sucker. You learn to pay attention to whether it’s a two-way conversation or if they are just talking about themselves, if they offer emotional support, and if you feel energised or drained.” – Ben Wagner
Embracing the weird…
“Friends are people you can learn and grow from. I gravitate to people who are funny and weird and outside the norm – even in my business you have to be kind of weird to work for me, so I think weirdness is a top priority!” – Michelle Bablo
Ideas for staying connected and building friendship routines
Create a friend thread
“I have a lot of pockets of friends from different walks of life, and it helps to have special, unique routines to keep the dialogue going. I have a "Friend Thread" with two friends. I love it because we have a long record of our lives together and also documented hilarious stories about dating, big life decisions, weird health problems. I also have a group of friends that I share a journal with and we mail it to each other. I also email questions back and forth with one of my best friends. We do it every month or so, sometimes more often, sometimes less. The questions range from super random — e.g. if you were a cake flavour, what would it be? — to more thought-provoking — e.g. how has your marriage changed your life?” – Tara
Host regular themed events
“I have a best friend who I haven’t seen for 1.5 months even though we live one mile apart and so my goal is to have certain things every week – like a dinner or a book club or film club. I like to meet a lot of people but I don’t want to ignore people I’ve know for a while, so having a friendship routine is really important.” – Bobby
Lean into the awkward
“Whenever you feel your body wanting to shy away from someone’s eye contact or whatever, I would encourage you to try to lean into the awkwardness. Look at people in the eyes more and say hello more and push the words out.” – Hayley
Go on a walking date
“I’m getting into going for walks with people, especially if I just getting to know them because it’s really casual and you don't need to plan it out too much. It’s relaxed, you get some fresh air, you instantly feels a certain intimacy.” – Joanna Goddard
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