Best friends. Everyone wants one. We want soul sisters or brothers from other mothers and “married to my best friend” is a popular decorative on Instagram bios. Oh, to have that one person to whom you can eternally spill the deepest longings of your heart and soul! There’s no doubt that companionship is a fundamental part of life. Life is founded on relationships.
And yet, here are some common descriptions of friendship on social media these days:
“A good friend calms you down when you are angry, but a best friend skips beside you with a baseball bat singing, ‘Someone’s gonna get it.’ ”
“A good friend borrows your stuff for a few days and then gives it back, but a best friend loses your stuff and tells you, ‘My bad, LOL.’ ”
“A good friend bails you out of jail but your best friend is the one next to you saying, ‘**** that was awesome!’”
Funny, right? Unfortunately, we humans can have a knack for finding hilarity in the inappropriate. Alas, true friendship is not all fun and games and it’s false to assume that the more inappropriate you are together (or the more inconsiderate) the better the friendship. Many can have a skewed take on what deep friendship actually means. Somewhere along the way it’s possible to lose sight of those crucial elements that make up a best friend.
Here are a few examples of this:
Profanities are not appropriate nicknames for friends, namely because they’re devoid of consideration for others. Even if said in jest, they aren’t nice words when directed at objects, so of course they are inappropriate when directed at humans. Focus on building up, not tearing friends down.
Encouraging friends to be looser and more undiscerning versions of themselves is not a mark of friendship. A true friend wants the best for those they care about, and that includes how they conduct themselves in both their personal and public lives.
We don’t prioritize honesty.
Sometimes we choose friendship over truth. We want to be included and valued so we stay quiet and let issues slide. But that’s not friendship. Know this: Being a person of conviction and encouraging your friends to be the same is the best thing you can do as a friend. It may be awkward, but sometimes we’re in a person’s life to help them see things they would otherwise choose not to see. It’s a mark of care to say (in love) the hard truths.
… a true friend is someone who gently and firmly drives her friends forward.
We’re prone to thinking friendship is this stagnant, unconditional love that treasures each and every person for exactly who they are. While this is accurate, a true friend is someone who gently and firmly drives her friends forward. A friend like this encourages to right the wrongs and do things that grow them, even when it’s tough.
Thankfully, the art of companionship has not been lost just yet. We have the wisdom of the ages to remind and bring us back to the true meaning of friendship when the memes of the world forget:
“A true friend freely advises justly, assists readily, adventures boldly, takes all patiently, defends courageously, and continues as a friend unchangeably.” –William Penn
“In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst in to flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.” –Albert Schweitzer
“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” –King Solomon
Let’s move to reclaim these kinds of friendships. Here are two ways we can do that:
Famous philosopher Elbert Hubbard once said, “In order to have friends you must first be a friend.” It’s the same golden rule we’ve been taught over and over: Do unto others what you would have done to you. No one would ever wish themselves harm. To do this, to really do this well, requires us to be genuine in our relationships.
Tell the truth.
Friendship is not a one-sided transaction. It’s an exchange between two people that, yes, involves getting, but for the most part it’s also about giving and focusing on the other person. Because this is not an investment rooted in selfishness, the well being of said person is the utmost priority. Open communication, no matter the cost, is the only way to achieve this. Commend when it’s deserved and confront when it’s necessary.
Many people find that they receive the most when they think of themselves the least, which leads to the conclusion that life isn’t all about us. And, actually, we’re better off that way.
How do you gauge whether your friendships are flourishing?
Images via Jadyn Noelle