So we all know that our friends are great. Some we're closer to than others, they belong in different groups, to different parts of our lives but overall they're just great.
This story on the BBC news website claims that the average number of friends a person has is 150. You may be thinking of your Facebook friends counter and disputing that it could be so low but here they are defining "friend" to mean:
"the number of people that you know as persons and you know how they fit into your social world and they know how you fit into theirs. They are a group of people to which you have an obligation of friendship."
The writer goes on: "They usually consist of an inner circle of five "core" people and an additional layer of 10. That makes 15 people - some will probably be family members - who are your central group and then outside that, there's another 35 in the next circle and another 100 on the outside. And that's one person's social world."
So thinking about my "social world" - I can immediately think of about nine people I am really close to. People I would pick up the phone and call anytime of the day or night and who I know would be happy to drop everything and listen. So that sounds about right - I can definitely add more to work out my "central group". The next circle - 35 sounds about right for that and then 100 sounds pretty reasonable to complete my social world. And then there are probably others who come and go depending on where your life is. One important thing that I've learned is that friendships are for seasons in your life. Some will be lifelong and I'd like to think I can pick out the people in my social world who will still be in it in 10 or 20 years. But others will come and go as people change jobs, move away or just grow apart. And that is ok.
But this does remind me that so many people are really isolated - for some reason or another their lives have been hard and they have lost those connections to others. So when you're walking down the street - smile at people. Because you may be the only person that day who does acknowledge them. How lucky are we to have those people in our lives who do pick up the phone, give us a hug and jump up and down with excitement when they see us...