Friendship is an incredible thing: It can make you realise things about yourself that you never dreamed possible; it can bring a perspective on life that no one, not even your spouse, can bring; it can carry you over the finish line of any race, when your legs involuntarily stop functioning; it has the potential to set your life on an awesome trajectory.
They say you are the sum of the 5 people you spend the most time with, so choose your friends wisely.
I am lucky enough to have a friendship that has done these things and more.
I met my best friend; Lisa van Wyk, 37 years ago in Sub A at Stirling Primary School. We gelled instantly as energetic, wild, adventurous tom-boyish girls. We both loved sports, playing hockey side by side to matric. After school, we studied together and thereafter we travelled overseas looking for great adventure. We had the time of our lives figuring out who we were, what we were good at, making friends from all over the globe and travelling the world. The time came to separate, to follow our hearts and dreams. At a responsible age, close to our thirties, we started our families. After a 10-year hiatus we regrouped back in our beloved hometown East London, and now play together every weekend, holiday together annually, our husbands are great friends, our kids believe they are cousins and there isn’t a day without communicating with each other. To say we have walked a road or two is a great understatement.
Looking back on 37 years of friendship and how blessed we have been to have such a relationship, we can categorise friendship into 4 inter-mingled areas: Development, Support, Trust and Adventure. These 4 pillars are the foundation to a healthy well-balanced life positively influenced by the right people that you keep close to your side.
There is no shadow of a doubt that our close to 4-decade friendship played a vital role in our personal and professional development. When you have someone that believes in you when you can’t, means that the decisions you make are different to the ones that you would’ve made on your own.
As we have grown and found ourselves in the careers that we love and thrive in, we have been able to use our shared skills to network with like-minded business people, creatives and community members. We both served on the Businesswomen’s Association committee for 6 years, positively influencing many women’s careers and development. We have collaborated and pooled our skills and resources to offer workshops on various topics that are facilitated with as much dynamic energy as would be expected from us. When you have a partner in crime you’d be amazed at what you can achieve!
The friendship we have shared over the years, has allowed us to explore our independence and to develop emotionally, physically and spiritually as individuals, as businesswomen, as mothers and as wives.
Over the years we have heavily relied on each other’s support during family drama’s, health issues, broken hearts, life mistakes, job frustrations and day to day stresses.
While it’s totally normal to go through such experiences and emotions, sometimes all you need is someone to come alongside you to lift you, with all their might, out of the sinking sand, and to end up on the bank exhausted, strained, and crying in pain and laughter!
Together we’ve had so many of these moments, and while they’ve brought us closer together, it’s also been a place where we have inspired and motivated each other. True friendships don’t care why or how you ended up in the sinking sand. There is no judgement there. They just care about getting you out of the debilitating situation and making sure you come out the other side laughing and with a new perspective on life!
I can relate this to our careers, we both have found ourselves frustrated in jobs at different times which was often debated during beautiful long trail runs where we believe we can solve the world’s problems. We will both admit it was the trusted friend who gave the other confidence to push the comfort zone and take a leap of faith and to implement change at the right time.
Not only did I feel supported, but I felt encouraged, uplifted and recognized. And the result was a business plan that motivated me and took my career to the next level where Current Consulting was born and branded by Lisa of course, inspired on a 21km trail run in Alexandra.
On the back of the Support pillar, comes trust. Someone you can rely on for tough love “you don’t look nice in that, you were wrong, you are making a mistake” which you take on the chin without being sensitive as you know deep down it is the truth. Someone to share secrets with and you know your trust won’t be broken. Someone you can trust your life and that of your children with. There is a power in knowing someone always has your back, you will never be alone in this world.
Trust is something that comes with love, our friendship is based on love, love for each other, for our families, the community, the world, the environment, the love of life!
Fear can paralyze you, but if you have a friend holding your hand you can achieve much. Together we have skydived over the Channel Islands, Scuba-dived and Paraglided in Thailand, learnt to surf on the East Coast, Run Wild multi-day endurance trail runs in the Transkei with the Wild Women. If there is an opportunity with adventure written on it, we are keen. If one of us is brave enough to take the plunge, the other is in.
When I made the crazy decision to run the comrades and after researching I realized I needed to run a marathon as a qualifier, I shared my dilemma with Lisa who really does not like road running or the longer distances, but she knew I needed her support to achieve this goal, so she trained with me and we did it, our first marathon together.
Together, we have unspoken expectations of each other to live each day to the fullest, add as much value as we can to the community, bring as much energy and inspiration we can to our networks.
I constantly encourage my daughter to find such a friendship, as I know she will always be loved, protected, guided, happy. Do you have a friendship story to share?