The month of September can be described as an autumnal whirlwind of birthday celebrations including mums, several girlfriends, god-children and my own.
My birthday weekend was a little more understated than the usual fanfare but I had so much fun and enjoyed the company of good friends. We exchanged gifts and reminisced for hours over memories that seemed insignificant but on reflection have helped to cement our relationships. One girlfriend said she had so much fun, she thought it was her own birthday. We laughed at how goofy her comment sounded but behind it laid what we both knew to be the essence of true friendship.
“One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood”.
Lucius Annaeus Seneca
I’m going to be honest – at this point of writing the post I was in two minds; continue along the lines of how blessed I am to have good friends or actually say what’s really on my mind? I opted for the latter, so let me pause and place the disclaimer right here…
I’m not throwing attitude/shade or calling anyone out. Those who have a somewhat sensitive disposition about the topic of friendship, please stop reading here!
When I scroll through my Facebook/Instagram timelines what often stands out is the need, desire, longing for true friendship.
THE THIRST IS REAL (ok no more Americanisms).
The whole squad goals phenomenon has got many of us stupefied about what constitutes a real relationship. We’re posting pictures of our friends looking ten-outta-ten one day and the next day quotes about how disloyal friends are, who we’re going to cut out of our lives and the old time classic…‘delete yourself from my Facebook, you know who you are’. Our friendships (or as my sista puts it, situationships) seem to go from feast to famine.
Sometimes the answer as to why we can’t sustain a true friendship is simple – many of us aren’t actually looking for a‘true’ friend. We think we are but we’re actually looking for someone to consistently placate our poor behaviour, jump throw our egotistical hoops and look good in our Instagram pics. The depth of these friendships can often be summarised in quotes about, “only surrounding ourselves with positive people” that are going to support every minutia of activity in our lives but will never challenge us to truly adjust our attitudes or outlook. Those that do challenge us, we simply dismiss as being jealous or fake. And whilst I totally agree with having positive people in our lives, I also believe that,
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another”. – Proverbs 27:17
Friends should not only help to boost our confidence but challenge our character and this is where many of us come unstuck. We don’t want to understand others but we want to be understood by others; because of this we surround ourselves with yes people and form quasi-friendships so that OUR voice, OUR needs, OUR ideas, OUR beauty can be consistently validated.
If some of us are totally honest, we should stop telling ourselves comforting stories of how other people are always the problem (and no doubt sometimes they are) and start thinking whether it’s the unquenchable thirst of I, ME, MINE that’s really blocking our path to genuine friendship.
For the majority of my life I’ve been blessed with what I feel are true friends. I’ve gone through most of my REAL growing up with the people you see in these pictures. We’ve seen each other through illness, bereavement, house buying, job losses, financial difficulties, career changes, relationship breakdowns. We’ve argued, fallen out, and said things to each other that we’ve deeply regretted but we’ve never lost that genuine love and admiration for each other. We’ve kept each other in check, whilst coming to the realisation that if a friendship is going to be mutually beneficial it can’t be a case of I, ME, MINE but rather YOU, WE, OURS. We desire more than anything to see each other strive and understand that we each have a part to play in progressing the lives of those we call friends.
“Friendship… is not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything”.