I’ve been thinking about the word “friend” over the last couple of days. I feel that in today’s world, filled with social media, instant messaging, skype, etc. the concept of true friendship is sometimes lost.
In a recent discussion with a friend of mine, I was asked to define what friendship means to me, and why I sometimes feel friendship is something we take for granted. Just because you’re a ‘friend’ on Facebook or in one of my chats, doesn’t make me your “friend”. What I mean is, when I consider someone to be a close friend, I feel it works both ways and they also have to agree that they’re my friend.
A friend is not a dumping ground. I have friends, who I know I can vent to, but I also am there for them when they need me; it’s a two-way street. A friend accepts you for who you are. If you don’t like the way I am, please don’t try and change me before you consider me ‘good enough’ to be associated with. I know I have things I need to do better in, but if your sole goal is to make me live up to your expectations, you’re going to be disappointed. A friend respects you. I can honestly say I have quite a few guy friends, but they all respect my wish to not date or start a relationship with anyone right now. We have great conversations, connect, and laugh, but it’s all built around that respect.
I’ve met and connected with people I’ve never met. The internet is a wonderful thing for that. I’ve made some amazing friends that way, people I can talk to, we connect on a way only we can understand, and we find ourselves picking up after days of not talking, as if no time had passed at all. I’m so grateful to those people, both those I’ve physically met, and those I’ve met online, who have been there for me over the years. I’ve had people who prayed for me, encouraged me through some pretty dark spots, who helped me when I was lost and alone.
Being in a situation where I’ve suddenly had to say good-bye to some people I’ve really come to love and respect, I’ve been looking over my idea of friendship and trying to determine if I’m really a good friend. I lived near and worked with some truly amazing people in the last year. They had faith in me, supported me through all the changes I went through, and they still write me often, or give a ping in chat to make sure I’m alright.
However, looking back, I feel I sometimes took them for granted. I felt there was time; there would be ways to show them I cared, that I loved them, that I was grateful for them. How many times did I turn down an invitation to just come chill because I was busy with work, or wanted to “be alone” for a bit? I have to admit, I retreated into a shell, I pulled back, afraid to trust, to truly let myself go. I know I hurt some people I really love because of it.
Now that I’m alone, now that my dear friends are on the other side of the world, I appreciate them so much more. That’s not fair, I know, and I want to do better. I want them to know what wonderful people they are, how grateful I am that they’re a part of my life, and that when we meet again, I promise to be there; all of me. I really do love you—and I hope you know who you are—and pray that I can be for you, all that you’ve been for me.