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Maria Menounos on the Importance of Friends

By Maria Menounos | February 9, 2018 | Rally Health

For 17 years, I’ve been working nonstop. I felt like a locomotive going 200 miles an hour. Then I found out I had a brain tumor. 

Reeling from this traumatic news opened my eyes to how I was spending my time — always rushing from one thing to the next, never taking time to just relax, enjoy life, and appreciate the little things, like spending time with my friends.

 I’d squeeze in time with friends whenever I could. But it was usually work-related, somehow. I used to joke that unless we’re working together, I don’t see people. That was the best way to get together. 

Since my surgery in July to remove the tumor, I’ve become a different person. I am lucky to have a lot of of amazing friends and family members who love and support me, and who have been there for me when I needed them most. And now, taking the time to actually be with them — and pausing to appreciate and truly enjoy it — has been a huge change for me. I recommend that everyone try it!

To be honest, making time to meet up with friends has been really strange for me, but they have been delighted. Allyssa, my East Coast best friend since seventh grade, came out to Los Angeles pre-surgery, during surgery, and after surgery, and was with me every step of the way. Now I’m texting her and saying, “We’re going to go on this adventure,” or, “Let’s go apple picking.” She remembers when all I did was work, work, work. But now, she’s commenting on my Instagram, saying things like, “I love the new you.” Or, more comically, she texts me, “Who are you and what did you do with my friend?”

My West Coast best friend, Rachel, has finally seen more of me, as well. We had lunch last week, and it was the strangest thing... I actually sat down and had lunch. Not a business meeting, an actual lunch hangout.. She’s like, “I can’t believe this is happening.”

I was texting Derek Hough, my old dance partner on “Dancing with the Stars,” just this morning. We were talking about some stuff he was doing, and I said, “I’m not doing anything for the rest of the year unless it’s fun or it’s restful.” He was immediately like, “I’m down for fun.”

I said, “I know you are, let’s make some plans!” It’s my primary goal: resting and having fun with people I love. It’s been the best way to de-stress, to actually remember to take time to not only enjoy life, but to appreciate it. When I’m not making time for friends, I’m not making time for myself — I know the only way to carve out real “me” time is by making plans with the people I love.

When I was on vacation recently, I made a little list of whom I wanted to spend more time with. I consider it my hit list of people I want to become closer to. Yes, this means I’m a total nerd, but it was the only way I would remember. Otherwise, you forget who’s around and who you want to see when you’re back in real life and work is picking up.

Making time isn’t always easy. Neither is making (or keeping) friends in the first place. I recently realized that it’s not just me who has trouble making new friends, it’s all of us. I thought there was something wrong with me. But I realized that as we get older and busier, and have families to take care of, we stop taking time to make new friends, or to stay in touch with old ones. It’s work.

As you get older, you feel weirder that you don’t have as many super close friends. For me, I have people all over the globe that are relatively close friends. I know tons of people, but if I am honest with myself, I’ve never been able to invest in my friendships as much as I’d like. (Luckily, my friends don’t agree!)

I’ve never been the “What are we doing Friday night?” friend. I’ve never been the person who asks, “Are we doing breakfast Saturday?” I’m always working. But of course, I always pushed myself to be there for them when they needed me, regardless of what I was working on at the time.

As I’m trying to take better care of my friendships, here are a few things I’ve been doing:

  • Make a friendship “hit list.” Go through your phone and see if there are any friendships you’d like to renew, and make a list of people you’d love to spend more time with.
  • Send a text, comment or message once a day. It doesn’t have to be long, and you don’t need to spend the rest of the day going back and forth. Just send a short message to let a friend know you’re thinking about her. Throwback photos of you and that person are always heartwarming!
  • Make a fun plan. Skip the typical Saturday brunch in favor of a more exciting activity, like pumpkin picking, hiking, sledding, or a cool fitness class you’ve always wanted to try. I also love hosting screening parties for movies at my house, or really intense card games.
  • Follow through. If all you do is say that you’re going to make plans, you’re never going to really make those friendship connections. Set dates and times, and make something happen in real life, not just by texting.

I feel that if you want to make new friends, you have to kind of put it out to the universe. I’ve been doing that lately, and I’ve been meeting the most amazing women. I swear, God’s putting them in my path for a reason. Right now, I want to find friends who are really into spiritual healing — yogis, people who are going to help bring my energy to a good place and help me stay there. And that’s exactly who I’ve been finding.

What I’ve discovered is, we need different kinds of friends at different ages. But some things are consistent: We need people who are going to bring out the best in us, that we can grow with, that expect more of us. My dad always used to say, “Tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are.” I don’t want my old frenetic, crazy life anymore. I want to be around  calm, cool, deeper people. That’s who I’ve surrounded myself with, and those are the people I’m making time for. The new “me” is committed to being the best friend, having the most fun, and being the most relaxed version of myself. We all deserve that.  

Maria Menounos
Rally Health