F.R.I.E.N.D.S.

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What kind of a friend are you? What kind of friends do you have? It may seem pretty cliché but the people you surround yourself with influence you more than you would care to imagine. In turn, you also influence them just as much. So if you have never looked keenly at your friends, perhaps you need to.

What’s a friend anyway? One of the common definitions is a person whom one knows and has a bond of mutual affection with, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations. Using that definition, a lot of people would definitely make the list, right? They don’t all influence you though, do they? I mean, I am pretty fond of my Face Book friends, but I wouldn’t really say they influence me.

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So we need a deeper distinction. What then is a True Friend? Some people would say, someone who will always be there for you, even when everyone else is gone. Someone who sees you and accepts you as you really are. Someone who would never judge you. All these and more, are what we normally call True or Best friends.

I have seen my fair share of friends come and go. Some I could clearly tell were there for the short haul or for a particular season or reason. Like my campus friends for instance. I absolutely adored those girls and even though we no longer speak daily, I still consider them my valued friends. They had a very high influence on who I was during that season of my life. Others, I could have sworn, were friends for life till they just upped and left without so much as a goodbye.

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One thing I have realized as I grow older (and hopefully wiser) is that I have fewer friends. The ones who are really close to me. The ones who know where the bodies are buried, so to speak. And it’s actually harder when you’re older to make new friends. The long lasting deep kind. Our experiences make it harder for us to trust people easily and we end up holding them at arm’s length and never really letting them in.

Personally, this is my definition for a true friend. Someone who will pick my call at 3am and will come to wherever I need them to. No hesitation and no questions asked. I use the same consideration to define myself to the precious few who call me a true friend. And trust me, I am not the kind of person who would often need to make 3am calls. Even when I was a night owl, I only made that call once. So it’s symbolic really. These are people who will have my back no matter what, and will not hesitate to call me out if they see me going the wrong way. They are not afraid to offend me and subject me to tough love on a regular basis.

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I used to think that a true friend was one who would let you get away with anything, like an enabler. The kind who would let you jump off a cliff, and be waiting at the bottom for you. I recently learnt that true friendship is about telling someone that they are making a big mistake – before they make it and not after! True friends will tell you the truth; the painful truth. They will not mince words, or stand by as you make a mistake, or let you wallow in your misery. And you will hate them briefly for doing it, but eventually you will thank them. And ultimately, these are the people you will come to treasure and hold close. These are the people whose opinions will influence and gently complement your own.

And by the way, if you ever have the good fortune to fall in love with and marry your true friend, then consider yourself one of the luckiest people in the world!

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