Monday, February 3, 2020

Friendships: Why Horseshoes are Better than Circles

Cow show friends Jill, myself and Suzanne.
Ready to talk about horseshoes? Normally I don't transcribe the entire Squad Life episodes line by line. However, this week's topic is one that really resonated with me. So listen in or read along. Either way I hope you'll create a horseshoe. 

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When I say horseshoes I am not referring to the game my Grandma Hazel taught me to play at our family reunions. If you didn't know I am a farm girl. And specifically when it comes to all that farm stuff I really like cows. I few up as a 4-H nerd and would spend every single minute of my summers either getting ready for a cow show or proudly parading my cows around a one.

It was 1998 and I had a beautiful red heifer with a big white blaze down her face named Harmony. I LOVED that heifer and Harmony and I took home a lot of banners. However, what was better than those banners were my cow show friends. When you are 13 years old and you lived outside a town with a population of less than 400 people the selection of friends is limited. The number of people that understood my love of cows was even smaller aka my sister got it and that was it. But when I went to those show with Harmony in tow there was a whole group of other 13-year-old girls from small towns that loved cows and were craving deeper friendships just like me.

One of those friends was Jill. We both had pretty bad Dixie chicks inspired haircuts, loved tiny butterfly hair clips and the screams went into another octave when the Spice Girls came on.

We were there for the cows and the friendships, but what better way to round out any 4-H or youth cattle show than a dance party. I am talking DJ in a metal pole shed, lights slightly lowered and songs like Faith Hill’s This Kiss, Britney Spears singing Baby One More Time and Offsprings’s Pretty Fly for a White Guy. Somehow it is ingrained into a woman’s DNA that when the music starts, and you are shaking and grooving on the dance floor the natural formation is a circle. If you have heard Rachel Hollis speak she recounts that this natural instinct is important for your later clubbing years, as it allows you to put all your purses in the middle, circle up and provide protection as you booty shake the night away.

However, my friend Jill was wise beyond her years and as the circles would form she would yell out, "no circles, no circles." In my head I am thinking, "Wait what!? Why we breaking up the circle. Cruel Summer is about to come on?"

Jill never said out loud why we were disrupting our instinctual formation, but I soon got it.

A circle creates a tight wall, one that no one else can get into. The new girl or the person that doesn’t have their own circle can’t get in. You are either a part of the circle or outside of the circle. We broke a part our circle, still dancing close enough to sing as loudly as possible into the other persons face (you know that dance move), but our lack of circles allowed us to welcome others in.  

At the time the word horseshoe was never used but a few years ago I came across a quote from another insightful lady named Glennon Doyle

Horseshoes are better than circles.
Leave space. Always leave space.
Horseshoes of friends > Circles of friends.
Life can be lonely. Stand in horseshoes.

Jill was right, Glennon was right. Horseshoes. We need more of them.

Over and over again in my life I have found myself outside of the circle. It was the birthday parties I wasn't invited to, the college spring break trip I wasn’t included on, the committee that there wasn’t a seat for me at, the mom’s night out planned, but I was excluded because when you don’t have kids it is easy to forget about girls like me.

On the same note I bet I was the girl that also had my own circle and didn’t step back to welcome someone else in, and I regret that decision.

Sometimes we get so caught up in the moment it is easy to not think about others. You want to be inclusive but the hotel room will only sleep four people so that means not everyone gets to come. As a group grows you worry that you'll lose some of the closeness and the trust factor. All the above may be true but I think we still need to make an effort.

I have heard others say I don’t need any new friends. I get it. Adult friendships take a lot of work especially to turn them into deep relationships. We get distracted and don’t answer the text, which doesn’t allow a foundation of security and consistency to be formed. We feel like we are connected but honestly exchanging likes and comments back and forth on Instagram doesn’t allow us to go deeper. Research shows that sitting in front of someone and being able to look them in the face while giving them your full attention creates a psychological sense of connection. So text your friend and then meet up for dinner.

You also have to stop pretending that we are cooler than we are. Disclose that you aren’t into the Bachelor but you do love to binge watch the Kardashians. Share that you love drag queen music or that you could probably give up alcohol if you had to. Reveal that one of your biggest fears is that you won’t be remembered. If you are curious those are all my personal confessions.

When you say that you don’t need any new friends it breaks my heart a little because someone out there really needs a friend. There is always going to be a new girl in town or a new girl in the office. There is going to be someone that is going through a life change and is in new unchartered territory, and would love to hang out with someone that has already been there.

Are the wheels turning? Still not ready to take the big leap into best friends forever territory? That’s ok because low-stakes friendship, also known as weak ties have benefits too. A 2014 study found that the more of these weak tie friends that you interact with the better off your well-being is. Meaning you'll be happier. 

Interacting with your exercise classmates, that person you give the little nod to at church each week or making conversation with the other moms in the pick up line can all increase your happiness. Over the past four years I have watched people join me in my Keep Collective and Stella and Dot business. They come for the product or the need/want to make a little extra money and then they stay for the friendships. Being a part of a team and a community is something that we crave. It is something my community can provide. 

These low stakes friendships allow us to create mini networks. I wanted to say circles but remember we are going for horseshoes.

Make horseshoes. Look for the person that you can invite into the conversation. Have a mix of acquaintances and but also don’t be afraid to take those next steps of being vulnerable to deepen the friendship. 

And if you ever need anyone to coach you through the moves to the Spice Girls Stop Right Now dance I'm your friend. 

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