In the last few years I’ve learned that life is unexpected if anything.

And I love that.

I really do.

Unexpected, but oh so great.

However the people who make my life great aren’t always the same as I expected.  The people who make my life great, change as I change, there are some constants and some variations.  Some have been there for years, some come in and out, and others are recent additions.

Looking back to seven years ago, I would have never guessed that two of the girls that I was inseparable from wouldn’t even be casual friends now.  I haven’t seen one of them in several years and the other a year.  We changed, we had other priorities, we had distance between us, and we grew apart. Looking back to 3 years ago and even one year ago (BA & MA graduations) there are definitely some other friendships that have strengthened and some that have fallen through the cracks as well.

As I’ve gotten older I’ve understood that the people in my life are meant to be there.  And the others that are no longer there may have just been needed for a reason or a season. There aren’t any real hard feelings, but I know that I am happier with who I am now, than who I was then, so I can’t say I regret growing apart from them.

Without hard feelings, there are just realizations that as we grow up and change, we learn lessons and let go of the person we used to be. In letting go of the person we used to be we see more important characteristics within friendships and seek to keep the ones that have those characteristics and bring out those characteristics and the best in us.

Even more unexpected is the friendships that you make in the unexpected ways that become as strong as any other friendship you value.  I can honestly say that several of my tweeps and especially the two that I call my Twitter BFFF’s feel as close to me as the friends that I have known for years.  Maybe even closer at times.  Perhaps one can truly be more true to oneself when they are in a virtual world of social media. Whatever the reason might be, I can honestly say that I believe in the ability to be friends with someone before you have physically met them. In the last year some of the friends that have been there for me the most are ones that I do not know in real life.

Friends also come in all ages.  Some of my closest friends may be quite a few years younger than me. That doesn’t matter though, they understand me, they get me, and they know when I need advice and when I need to fall. Same goes for those friends that are older than me.  Friends are the people you can lean on and leaning on someone doesn’t mean they must have been in your situation before or understand what you are feeling, just that they are there for you when you need them.

And then there are those friends that others may not quite understand how you are friends or believe that you are as good of friends as you are.  The beauty of friendship is that it doesn’t come in a one-size fits all.  It comes in all varieties and sometimes the only people who can understand how great a friendship is are the members of it.  A friendship that is a true friendship doesn’t need to be seen or recognized by others though, true friendship is there to the people in need of it and that is all that matters. True friendship can’t be judged by the cover because the true cover is only visible to the holders of the friendship.

That being said, I have the best of friends.  Some are unexpected. Some are older. Some are younger.  Some have been there for years. Some are new.  Some have a physical presence in my life, others have a virtual presence.  Some are friendships that others don’t understand, others are friendships that are blatant to anyone walking by.  These friends may give me advice and want the best for me, but they also understand that in order to grow and learn everyone has to fall sometimes.  They are the best of friends for letting me be me. They may not always agree with the decisions I make, but they understand that happiness is what is most important, and they hope for that for me.

These friendships have helped make me who I am and who I will be.  Even those friendship that have fallen through the cracks or are fading away have played a significant role in my life.  You learn a lesson from every person who is a part of your life, and those lessons are what make you who you are.

As I get older and continue to learn and mature, my friendships may change again. However, I can honestly say that looking at the list in my mind of those friends that I hold close, that I would be glad to call them my friends for the rest of my life.   The person that I am today is truly near the person I hope to be in my life and those people I surround myself with today, virtually and physically, make me who I am.

And in the last 365 days of my life I can say that there have been many lessons.  Some doors closed. Some new doors opened. Some old doors reopened.  Lots of memories.  Lots of smiles. Lots of laughter. And some great times with great friends.  I can’t say what the future will hold or who the future will hold, but if I can help it those names at the top of my list will remain.

So thanks to everyone who has shown me the beauty of friendship. Even those friendships that don’t remain in my life today.  You have made me a stronger person and made me who I am.

Life is unexpected. If one sits back and worries about tomorrow, they will never enjoy today.  Therefore live in the moment and appreciate those that are with you in the moment.  However, don’t ever regret those in your past. Understand how they helped you and always grasp the lessons they gave you.

Life ain’t always beautiful, but it’s a beautiful ride.