You would think by reading the title of this installment that it’s strictly for teenagers. Not true at all. We are human (at least most of us), and a fundamental need of humans is interaction. As you can see through all the available social networks, humans can even cross the line a bit into over-communication. I’ve mentioned before that I’m pretty confident that the increase in divorce can be matched with the increase of available socializing, but the point of this installment is not to encourage the quantity, but question the quality.
There are so many famous quotes concerning friendships, let’s look at a few for a pattern:
A friend is one who knows us, but loves us anyway. – Fr. Jerome Cummings
Your friend is the man who knows all about you, and still likes you. –Elbert Hubbard
A true friend is one who overlooks your failures and tolerates your success. – Doug Larson
See it yet? A true friend is someone who loves you for you. PERIOD. No matter what “you” entails…it is not something that a true friend will consider equivalent to “wrong”. Yes, these are overused expressions, or clichés, but they came about for a reason. Too often we dismiss clichés as redundant nonsense instead of thinking it through and finding its meaning. The nugget, so to speak, is there and you just have to dust it off to be able to recognize the true value.
Here is some of my very own advice that should probably be on a bumper sticker somewhere (hopefully it’s not already). “By clicking “accept” on Facebook does not a friend create”. It merely means you are acquaintances who would like to be kept abreast on each other’s latest endeavors. Another words…we’re all inherently nosey. And if you have more than a few acquaintances on Facebook, you’ll then realize we are either all liars or so freakin’ happy we have nothing at all to complain about. (Unless you are that one in a few who feels the need to be consistently negative…if so, please see Installment #2 of this LIFE Series.)
Without all those friends and acquaintances in our lives, we become lonely (anyone else picture the old lady with forty cats?). There is nothing good about being lonely. Being a “loner” is different and even most loners have a few friends, but truly being lonely is an unhappy state of mind. The University of Chicago has completed a survey about loneliness. The results said people over the age of 50 had higher blood pressure and loneliness was a significant factor. So it is true, loneliness can kill you. We’ve all suspected that, I think.
In order to avoid loneliness and unnecessary drama, the quality of the friendship should become the focal point. The trick to concentrating on quality instead of quantity is to stop keeping count. Life is not a popularity contest, although I know it seems that way at times. Teenagers probably do feel the brunt of this (unless you are a politician and I’m pretty sure no politician would admit to reading this blog) with all the high school and college drama that goes hand in hand with being the most known and well liked member of the student body. After those four or eight (or sometimes twelve, but who’s counting?) years of your life are over you’ll realize the important parts were not the number of parties you attended, but the number of lives you affected. Ok, that and the piece of paper at the end may be sort of equivalent.
As you look to see who around you can be considered “true” friends, ask yourself these questions:
- Who supports me no matter how stupid my idea may be?
- Who lets me vent when I’m about to explode?
- Who tells me the truth even when I’m the one who is wrong?
- Who would be there for me no matter what time I called?
- Who listens instead of just talks?
Finding the true friends in your circle is much easier than you probably believe. We all have people in our lives who thrive on drama, “friends” who can only talk about themselves, and people who refer to themselves as your friend while planning your demise behind your back. Those, obviously, aren’t true friends. The true friends are the ones we should highlight in our lives. This will make us all happier and healthier people.
Once you start to notice who may be pulling you down the drama drain, try and limit your time with them. You don’t have to stop all communications, acquaintances are good to have, but the more you allow yourself the time to work on the friendships that do matter, the happier you will be. Stop enabling the unnecessary. Learn how to say no…and don’t feel guilty when you can’t participate in their drama because you’d rather do nothing with your best friend. That’s what best friends are for!
This life is the one you’ve been given. What you do with it is completely up to you, but wouldn’t you rather filter out the unnecessary and focus in on the quality aspects that will make you happier and healthier? Life can be absolutely awesome or it can be mind numbingly monotonous. You choose.
Thanks for keeping up with the LIFE Series. Happy Bloggin’ ya’ll.