Friendship that is like family doesn’t happen overnight. Jennifer Garner posted a quote the other day that said, “The day you plant the seed is not the day you eat the fruit.” Friendship is just like that. It happens over days and weeks and years of constantly investing in someone and making time for them. It’s a thousand little decisions to show up and be an extraordinary friend.

My friend, if you are lonely, my best advice is to love yourself enough to be the kind of friend you’ve always wanted.

Be the kind of friend who texts when you’re thinking about them and who buys them flowers just because. Be the kind of friend who notices when it’s been a while since you’ve seen them and says things like, “Hey I miss you; let’s get together this week.” Be the kind of friend who asks how they’re doing and then listens (and truly cares) about the answer. Be the kind of friend who is true to her word and who shows up when it matters.

Be the kind of friend who is the first in line to hold that baby and the one who orders their favorite pizza to the hospital room after birth. Be the kind of friend who says how you feel about them and hugs and says “I love you.” Be the kind of friend who prays and encourages. Be the kind of friend who assumes the best, not the worst. Be the kind of friend who stays and works it out when there’s conflict. Be the kind of friend who doesn’t gossip and who always sticks up for her people.

Be the kind of friend who gives more than she takes. Be the kind of friend who cares so deeply and so wholeheartedly that it’s a risk, because the risk of friendship is worth it.

Be the kind of friend who doesn’t shy away from hard stuff like depression, anxiety, and grief. Be the kind of friend who holds space for her people and is present in the pain. Be the kind of friend who celebrates their wins like you’re their very own cheerleader. Be the kind of friend who buys champagne and makes a big deal over even the smallest things.

Be the kind of friend who stays. If someone is truly narcissistic or uninvested in your friendship, it is totally OK to walk away. But if you are just hitting a rough patch, or they’re just suddenly annoying the crap out of you, be the kind of friend who stays. Be the kind of friend who talks about stuff that’s bothering you instead of pulling back. Be the kind of friend who will fight for your friendships like you’re in the ring fighting for your life.

Extraordinary friends fight for their friendships with all their hearts, and they don’t walk away without being bruised and battered from trying.

My friend, listen to me, because this is so important: don’t wait one more second for that friend to show up in your life. Go and do it and be it, and it will be contagious.

Extraordinary friendships are built on people who decide to be extraordinary friends.

Extraordinary friends are people who love ridiculously and extravagantly and without expecting anything in return.

Yes, you will run into people who don’t deserve you. You will give more than you get sometimes. Nothing is ever lost by being generous, my friend. If you made an investment with no return, thank you. Thank you for your investment; it wasn’t wasted even if it feels like it. If you realize that relationship isn’t ever going to be mutual—it’s also TOTALLY OK to walk away and invest somewhere else.

We live in a very lonely world where so so so many people feel isolated and disconnected. How do we change that? We just start. We just start somewhere. We start loving and pursuing and being the kind of friends we’re longing for. We don’t overthink it, we just begin.

And then? When we find our people, we hang on for dear life and we love them with our whole hearts.

We refuse to let pettiness or small things wedge their way between us and WE STAY.

Because extraordinary friendships are built on people who decide to be extraordinary friends

This article originally appeared on Wonderoak

Jessica Johnston

Jessica Johnston is a writer and mom of four kids. She is an avid coffee drinker, risk taker, and TMI sharer. She is a firm believer in keeping it real and believes our imperfections bring us together. She writes at https://wonderoak.com/. You can follow her there, on Facebook, and on Instagram.