20 July 2012

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What friendship taught me

I once heard a friend say that friendship and our relationships with other people make a major contribution to how we turn out as they help us to get to know ourselves. Our interactions with other people are immensely valuable when it comes to self-exploration as our patience, personality, compassion and even life skills are developed through trial and error from a young age.

Through interacting with others we also learn what we value in life and what we don’t, even if we don’t realize it. When a friend starts to be an annoyance, it’s probably because there is a conflict in what you and your friend want out of life. The other main reason things don’t work out is because people want different things from a relationship and that can lead to disappointment and frustration for the person wanting more and make the person who is happy with less interaction feel smothered. But in the end, it just teaches us what we want out of our relationships with others and make future connections even stronger.

We shouldn’t forget the value of friendship and make time to invest in our friends. I know I’ve often been guilty of forgetting to contact someone, as I put them to the back of my mind, which is easy when you get wrapped up in your day-to-day activities. I’ve made excuses for not contacting them, such as being broke or being too busy, but these are never very good excuses. But I’ve also noticed that by making less of an effort to contact someone, they don’t contact me either. Maybe this is just because of the kind of people I connect with, normally independent spirits who don’t cling to anyone. The ones who don’t disappear out of my life when things get busy or circumstances change are the friends who I thank my stars for.

Great friendship taught me to love myself more and to appreciate my life and my family that much more. The few friends who I don’t want to live without have always been encouraging and we are fans of each other. I feel like there has to be something you admire in another person because you tend to absorb those qualities to an extent and it keeps the relationship strong. This is not the same as jealousy, as admiration makes you more of yourself and jealousy makes you depreciate what you have.

Friendship is teaching me how to live less attached to people and things and how to give without expecting to receive. This is an on-going process and I don’t think we can learn how to live unattached and selfless in one lifetime, but the more I strive for this the more I enjoy my friendships. There’s something very joyous about seeing your friends and having them brighten up your day because you enjoy their company, compared to seeing friends because you don’t want to be alone.

Friends are truly a mirror of ourselves, or at least mine are! I like to surround myself with only a handful of people, but we get to know each other so well and we can be very honest and still not hurt each other as we understand what constructive criticism is. Our friends sometimes know us better than we know ourselves.
Even scientists know that friendship is wonderful: Studies have shown that friends keep us healthier. Some encourage us to learn better habits, but the stress relief associated with friendship is especially valuable.

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