Growing up, we tend to form relationships with the people we spend most of our time with, like the kids at school or in our neighborhoods.
We tend to form bonds in the experiences we share, like going to the same birthday parties, working together on projects or playing on the same soccer teams.
These experiences are what connect us at times in our lives when we look to others to help us define who we are and whom we want to be.
They say that if a friendship lasts longer than seven years, it’s likely to last a lifetime.
I have a handful of close friends who’ve been around for twice as long, so chances are, those women are in my life to stay.
But, what keeps us bonded years later, now that we’re in our 20s and high school is long over? We’ve grown up and gone our separate ways, as people do.
Each of us is busy figuring out our own lives and rising to the challenges and responsibilities of adulthood. We’re becoming (or have become) mothers, wives, lawyers, dentists and businesswomen.
Between the endless meetings, night classes, crying babies and demanding office hours, I marvel that in the midst of all the change we’ve experienced, in ourselves and in our lives, I can still reach out to any one of them and find a listening ear or a shoulder to lean on when I need it the most.
There is just something about certain people in my life that prevents me from ever doubting or questioning that I am loved and valued.
And, that something is sometimes taken for granted, in that I’ve never really stopped to wonder what that it was.
It’s not just the familiarity because goodness knows familiarity breeds contempt, so simply being friends with someone because you’ve known him or her for a long time can go either way.
We don’t really have that much in common anymore or spend much time together.
If we manage to align our schedules and pull off a girl’s night once a month, it’s considered an impressive achievement.
After careful consideration and observation, I realized that while we may no longer share the same everyday routines or life experiences, we do share the same energy.
So often in life, that’s what it boils down to. The energy in the room can make all the difference.
It’s why we’re instantly drawn to some people but repelled by others. It’s the reason we "click" with some people we date, but fall flat with others.
Not only does the shared energy among my friends connect us despite distance, time or incredible change, it supports us, preserves us and defines us.
I am fortunate to be friends with people who know how to be happy and their positive energy reinforces and motivates me.
They are not the kind of people to constantly complain and throw tantrums when things don't go well.
Instead, when they get knocked down, they pick themselves up and take the necessary steps to make things right.
They know how to persist and persevere. When they smile, they mean it. They keep going forward without a doubt that they will eventually get wherever they want to be.
Their positive individual attitudes create a shared energy of respect, honesty and most of all, strength because it takes strength to work through everything that is bad and make a habit of recognizing the good.
In a time of redefined feminism and Millennial over-achievement, it’s easy to think that you know strong women or that you are a strong woman.
But, it’s not nearly as easy to live and feel it each day.
Strength is an energy, and if we’re not careful, it can be easily crowded out with the negative energy that comes with anxiety, anger and fear.
My friends actively make space in their lives for positive energy and, therefore, create their own happiness.
Knowing that I bear a mark of friendship defined by such positivity and strength convinces me that I, like my friends, will always find joy, no matter what life throws at me.
After all, birds of a feather flock together.
So the next time you’re with your group of lifelong friends, look around and think about the kind of energy you possess and give off.
It might say more than you realize.