Monday, July 13, 2009

Gratitude: My Best Friends

Recent events have made me take stock of some things, and one of those big things is looking at who are my true friends.

I believe true friends are those with whom I can be purely the real me. No games, no pretending.

These are the friends who love me as I am, no matter what. When I am with them I can express my honest opinion and be accepted even if the other person disagrees completely. (And you know that's a big deal, because I'm so darn opinionated.)

These are the people who love me even if they haven't seen me in months. We can pick up exactly where we left off last time. There's no awkward lulls or getting used to one another again.

They love me even with all my faults (a big deal, because they know all my faults).

And best of all? They think like I think.

With two exceptions (Hey, Shauna and Janee!), each and every one of my best friends is a writer.

I spent most of my adolescence aching to fit in. Trying, hoping to, and often, miserably failing.

I was so painfully shy in my early high school years that frankly, it was a miracle that by my junior year, I found a group where I thought I fit in. But by senior year they'd go off and do a bunch of big stuff without me.

So I knew that I sort of fit in with them, but I was really on edge of the group, not the inner circle. They might disagree with that assessment (go ahead and say so in the comments. I dare you; I know some of you are reading this), but from where I stand, it's the truth.

But with my writer friends, it's different.

I finally belong.

I remember vividly doing a Literacy Night event at a Relief Society Enrichment Night back when I felt welcomed by several writers but didn't quite yet feel like I was one of them.

Shortly after I arrived, Julie Wright put her arms around me, gave me one of her trademark hugs, and said, "Annette, I just love you."

And you know what? I knew she meant it. I had to hold back tears.

I hugged her back and said I loved her, too. And boy, did I ever mean it. I absolutely adore Julie. She is a gem, and I value her friendship more than words can express. From that moment, I knew I belonged.

The members of my critique group are also on the list of my dearest friends. They've put up with me for a very long time. They get an earful from me every week (poor Lu Ann has heard me longest, but Michele isn't far behind, and then there's Jeff and Heather and Rob).

They are all there for me and they genuinely care for me as family, whether it's at weekly meetings or via e-mail, whether it's to celebrate a small success or vent a frustration or just share a laugh. I can always count on them.

Then there's Josi. I still laugh at how our friendship got off to a bumpy start nearly six years ago with a totally stupid argument, but now, we're closer than many sisters. I can't imagine writing or publishing or working a conference without her in the picture (or sharing a hotel room so we can chat late into the night).

There are others who have been there for me and are dear, dear friends (the LDStorymakers list is nearing 100 now; I can't list everyone who has impacted me in a positive way!).

But this is a short list of my rocks, my dearest friends, the ones who have been with me the longest and have made the biggest impact on my life.

And I don't mean the ones who have made the biggest impact on my writing life, although if I were to make that kind of list, it would probably include most of the same people.

I mean that these friends have made a huge impact on my life.

Thanks, you guys. To each and every one of you.

You have no idea how much you've given me and how much I owe you. I've needed your friendships. I love you all. Thank you for letting me into your lives and hearts. I believe I'm a better person for it.


Erin said...

This post makes me like you even more. Thank you for writing it.

Heffalump said...

This is a sweet post. It's good to have real friends. They can often be very hard to find, and I am glad you have found yours!

Kristina P. said...

I am sure that you are truly and amazing and awesome friend.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad for you, Annette. There is nothing in the world like feeling like you finally fit. It doesn't surprise me that you fit well with people like Josi, Julie, Lu Ann, Jeff, Rob, Michelle, and Heather. From what I know of them, they are the finest sort of friends to have. I'm very, very happy for you and I know that they are just as happy to call you friend.

Kimberly Vanderhorst said...

I'm feeling all sniffly and blessed thinking about the gals in my life who've had such a huge positive impact. Beautiful post, Annette. Way to count your blessings.

Shauna said...

I am thankful you are my friend! And some day I plan to write a book :)

Sher said...

There is nothing better than having friends who you know love your for who you are!
I'm so glad to call you my friend!

Heather Moore said...

What a sweet post! I remember when I first saw you at a LUW writers meeting. You were the Chapter President and about 5-6 months pregnant. I remember totally looking up to you as a mom/and a writer, wishing I could follow in your footsteps. Forming such great friendships took me totally by surprise when I started going to writers' groups, etc. Now I would be lost without them. It's amazing when you meet someone who loves books and writing--it's like an instant connection. Love it.

Summer said...

I'm really glad you've found a group of friends like that. I have a group like that, my high school friends, but we all live far apart.

I long to find a group in my area that I can really be myself with but I've yet to find it. I mean, I have friends. People I know care about me and will be there for me in a pinch. But no one I can call and just hang out with on the spur of the moment at night, type thing

Kaylynn said...

True friends are the best. You are truly lucky!

Melanie Jacobson said...

Like Kimberly, this made me think abou the blessing of my own friends.

There's just something special about hanging out with people who get you--and love you anyway.

Lu Ann Brobst Staheli said...

How sweet of you! Just think where you would have been if you hadn't said YES when I called to ask you to be in our very first critique group. And of course we've all grown to love each other beyond our weaknesses. Where would we ever be without our Grammar Guru? And what would we do without you there to send us a note of encouragement when we are struggling with problems of our own? But the real clincher, you know we've all been in exactly the same place a few times in our own lives. As much as life hurts, we make it through, albeit sometimes we just need someone to hold us and remind us that everything will be okay. We love you, Annette, warts and all!

Luisa Perkins said...

A lovely tribute.

Josi said...

Oh my gosh, I made Annette's Best Freind list! THAT is an amazing thing, because the only thing as sweet as being surrounded by such great people, is knowing they love having you around them. Right back at ya, Annette, my writer friends are among the best blessings of my writing career. What a beautiful post.

Heatherlyn said...

Friends make life so rich and meaningful!

LisAway said...

You know, I was thinking that you have some pretty great friends since I started meeting some of them in the blogging world. And I loved their responses to my review of your book. Hopefully this post of yours makes up for the sting of none of their blog titles appearing in your books. :)

Michele Holmes said...

We do love you, Annette. And I am the one who feels so extremely blessed to have you as my friend---thanks again Shauna!!

Annette, your generosity with your talents and time has probably made your friend list MUCH larger than you realize.

Lara Neves said...

Such truths you speak. I've always felt that the mark of a true friend is the ability to pick up where you left off even when you haven't seen them in years. :) I love that.

Jami said...

Annette, thanks for your beautiful post. True friends do get us. Mine are some of my greatest blessings.


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