The 10 people we find wherever we go.
Well, not the exact same 10 people—everyone is different.
I’m talking about finding 10 people who fill the crucial relationship roles in our lives. No matter who it is we decide to surround ourselves with, it’s important to make sure that they make us feel loved—bright and shiny on the inside.
I prefer to make sure my circle of companions is comprised of folks who celebrate who I am and encourage me to use my gifts to help others.
A friend of mine recently overcame his fear of leaving home with his belief that we always find the folks we need to relate to wherever we go. I estimate that we need about 10 people to fill these core roles. This number, of course, differs for everyone and is variable.
There was an army base in the town where I grew up, so I became friends with lots of kids who had to pick up and start over in a new city every two years. They were gifted at identifying and jumping in feet first with their next set of 10 peeps.
These are the top 10 for me.
I lost my own dad as a teenager. Throughout my life I have found many older male friends to fill the role of father. This is a man I can trust for sound advise and unconditional love. He’s someone who can fix things and helps me solve problems with the wisdom of common sense. Someone’s actual dad or grandfather can fill this position. It’s nice to have a big guy in our life to look up to.
We’re all born. The traditional role of mother is that of caretaker. A mom is good at guiding and protecting us. Someone in the role of mother can fulfill the gentle and kind feminine need—home leader, teacher and general coordinator.
A mother figure listens openly to our sorrows and loves us with all of her heart. My own mom has lived in a faraway place my whole adult life, so I have adopted many local moms over the years. Sometimes the mom we pick is an older sister, aunt, godmother or friend. Always someone. I thrive when I have a mother to nurture me.
Because my mother lives in another state, our personal visits are few and far between. But we do send each other love letters and little packages often. She makes a great penpal.
I’m not referring to the type of penpals we had growing up—the ones where we would be assigned a kid from another country to exchange letters with so that they could practice their english.
The penpals I keep in my circle are friends who have moved far away or maybe those special folks I met while traveling. A penpal is a long distance relationship where we can share our innermost desires, dreams, troubles or anything. Having a penpal is a creative outlet—we handwrite letters to each other containing doodles or sometimes a little handmade gift.
Now days, most written communication is done electronically so having a penpal is a unique tactile solution to satisfy our handwriting needs. Receiving a letter in the mail is an uncommon thrill and is tangible proof that someone loves us that we can carry around with us in our daily travels.
4. Brother/ Sister.
My siblings have always been my best friends. A sibling is someone we share a history with—they understand our hearts without a lot of explanation. We can share good times and bad with our brothers and sisters. Our siblings have helped us practice our social skills. When I started having my own babies, I had lots of them so that they would get to enjoy the blessings of having a sibling.
I understand that not all people have siblings. For those who don’t have an actual sibling or one nearby, we can adopt a close friend to fill that role. Or we can pick friends that have close relationships with their own siblings and befriend the entire family.
Cousins can also fall into this group.
5. Best Friend.
This is the person who we can call in the middle of the night. We are there for each other no matter what. These are the people who we share our juiciest secrets with. And the best times. Or sometimes the worst. When we are struck by a fit of giggles, this is who we’re usually with. They may be just like us or the exact opposite—no matter what, they get us and love us anyway.
When I was in middle school I first learned the concept of a BFF.
Best friends forever!
Usually I just have one or two BFF’s at a time. As we evolve our BFF’s change. Now, as a grown up, I look back at the collection of BFF’s I’ve had throughout my life and it is a terrific collection of amazing individuals—I have to admit that I have impeccable taste in friends. Even though these are people I have outgrown, for geographic or other differences, my BFF’s are people who hold a treasured spot in my heart.
Once someone is our BFF, they are someone who we can pick up with just where we let off.
This is one of my favorites. Having an intimate partner is someone we can get our juices flowing with. This is a relationship where we can awaken our deepest spiritual places. Physical intimacy acts as a kind of bonding that no other relationship can satisfy. It can also be the most work because sexuality is where we can be the most vulnerable. A host of relational roles can fall into this category—boyfriend/ girlfriend, husband/ wife, mister/ mistress or just plain lover. Having a lover helps us practice giving and receiving love.
7. Boss/ Teacher/ Mentor/ Coach.
I enjoy the security of having someone tell me what to do. A teacher is someone to look up to, someone who has knowledge and wisdom to share with us. A good boss creates strong boundaries and expectations with structure. Having a leader helps us learn and grow. A coach shares their knowledge through experience. Having a proper mentor helps us grow our skills and realize our potential.
A mirror is someone who shows us who we are. This could be true of any relationship. We see who we are reflected in the eyes of others.
This is the person who we are attracted to for no apparent reason, other than they show us who we are. We have a lot of aha’s when we’re spending time with this person. They can show us the good, the bad and the ugly about ourselves. When associating with this person, what becomes crystal clear are the things we would like to change about ourselves.
Having someone to help us reflect on ourselves helps us develop empathy. This person gives us a translucent idea of who we are in this world.
Do we like what we see when we look in their mirror?
Does this person flatter us?
Do they make us want to be our best self?
If we’ve chosen a good mirror, they help us strive to be the best we can be.
I’m a dog person. There, I said it. Some people are cat people. Or maybe plant people—do you have a green thumb?
My relationship with my dog is important to me. She is a good listener, loves me unconditionally and inspires me to be kind, thoughtful and attentive. The benefits of having a relationship with a dog are many. Ultimately, my dog brings out the best in me.
This is probably the most commonly overlooked relationship of importance. Usually when we think of relationships we think of our interactions with others.
The relationship we have with ourselves can constantly change over the course of our lifetime. Cultivating a strong and loving relationship with ourselves is actually of dire importance. Being our own best friend dictates who we are in relation to everyone we interact with—the better friends we are with ourselves, the better we will connect with others.
Sometimes we need someone to challenge our belief systems. A nemesis can stir up our world and remind us that conflict is part of life. This is a great relationship to practice owning our mistakes, learning how to get along with nasty people and remind us to be strong in the face of adversity.
Yes, it’s true I have more than 10 relationships in my life. These are simply the 10 people I keep closest to my heart.
“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.”
~ Henri J.M. Nouwen
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Sign up for our (curated) daily and weekly newsletters!
Read 4 comments and reply