Inspired by the Word Press Daily Prompt ‘Something So Strong’, I thought it would be fun to delve a little deeper into what it means to actually be a ‘friend’ – a word that is all too often bandied around with very little thought to the true meaning behind it.
Take Facebook for example: I have something like 200 hundred ‘friends’ on there but perhaps only speak to a handful of them, some of them I’ve never even met before, yet still we class them as ‘friends’. There are a number of people that I confess to accepting ‘friend’ requests for just because I disliked them during school and wanted to see how ugly and fat they’ve gotten now they’re adults….
So after doing the maths, I probably only have affectionate feelings for approximately 5% of the people on my list of Facebook ‘friends’. The rest, I probably couldn’t care less about. But isn’t the same true when we turn off the computer, iPad, smartphone and get ourselves back out there in the ‘real world’?
I have many acquaintances in my day to day life, most of which I share a more than cordial relationship with, but there are only a handful of people out of a group of many dozens that I would actually consider a true friend. There’s nothing wrong with being friendly or nice to the folks that you meet or work with, but how many of them would you trust with your deepest and darkest secrets?
Not many, I’d wager.
What is it that sets friends apart from people you are just ‘friendly’ with? Is there some sort of friendship charter that folks need to live up to in order to be declared a ‘friend’ to someone, and if so, who the hell made up the charter in the first place and what makes them think they know everything?!
Humour aside, I think a lot of us know who our true friends are in this life. Real friends are the people who accept you for who you are, take your good days with your bad, celebrate in your successes and offer you a stiff drink and a firm hug when life invariably kicks you in the teeth.
Friends don’t judge or preach, they commiserate with you before offering their services to go break someone’s legs on your behalf (how dare someone upset you!). Friends don’t bail you out of jail – they’re sitting right next to you in the cell as you both laugh at how stupid you’ve been (and how hot that uniformed officer that arrested you is….)
Friends are the kind of people who see you at your worst yet still want to hang around with you. They’ve seen you crying with snot running down your face, held your hair back as you throw up after a heavy night out and still carried you home afterwards.
Sometimes, when we’re a little down on ourselves, it only takes a couple of words or a hug from one of our friends to make us feel as if things are a little bit better than they were before. Sometimes, it is just the fact that you know they’re there for you, ready and willing to fight your corner at a moment’s notice.
Friends tease each other, knowing there are certain lines that cannot be crossed under the flimsy excuse of ‘humour’. Friends know which buttons to press to get a reaction out of you, yet refuse to do so, knowing how much you’ll hurt if they do. Friends respect the boundaries of their relationships and work hard to bridge gaps in geography, class, lifestyles etc. to maintain those friendships.
Friends don’t think they’re better than you, though they’ll be the first person to tell you to get your head out of your ass when you get a bit too big for your britches. Friends don’t tell you what you only want to hear, but they’ll also tell you what you need to hear from time to time, albeit in a gentle and reassuring manner.
Friends – true friends – are rare in this life and we all need to work hard to maintain the relationships that are important to us. It can take a lifetime to build a strong friendship but only a second to destroy it. It is not the quantity of friends that matter but the quality – I’d rather have a handful of good friends than a truckload of folks who claimed to be my friend yet don’t know the meaning of the word.
So, if there’s someone out there who you consider a friend, pick up a phone, drop ‘em an email or go meet them for coffee and tell them how great you think they are and how lucky you feel to have them in your life.
Who knows, maybe they need to hear that just as much as you do.