When we were young children, having friends was the most important thing in the entire world. In fact, the more friends you had, the more popular and happier you would be. At such a young age, all that mattered was that your friend wouldn’t make fun of you, play with you in the playground at school and that s/he would make sure to invite you to their birthday party!
Now, our outlook on friendship and what it entails is completely different. The importance of friends in our lives takes a completely new precedence. We now have the luxury of choice, something we didn’t have much of when we were younger (that kid who talks to you on your first day at school becomes your friend, whether you like it or not). Gender, personal characteristics, mutual interests and even political views play a huge role in deciding who we befriend and who we decide to remain just acquaintances with. We’re also more mature now, so when we are friends with someone and then we grow apart, the world doesn’t end, we know that we still love and respect each other but circumstances, whatever they may be, lead to the fact that the dynamics of our relationship has changed.
But how important are friends, really? And do friends necessarily equal a social life? Those questions have to be answered on an individual basis, no two people are alike and their take on friendship is no exception. Personally, my friends are very important to me. I don’t make friends easily only because I have learned over the years that not everyone is genuine (surprise :D) and so I am careful who I am friends with and tend to keep the ones I have very close to my heart. A friend has to be someone mature that I trust, confide in, respect, love, care about, willing to take care of, is there for me and is someone who wants me in their life just as much as I want them in mine. They also have to be someone who expects all these qualities and more in me and, hopefully, finds them! I don’t like gossips because they’ll simply gossip about you the same way they do about others. I don’t have strong confidence in friendships that result from doing business either, so I keep one eye open when such a friendship develops and tread lightly.
I may upgrade or downgrade relationships, if deemed necessary, but I rarely cut anyone out of my life completely. I did it 3 times in my 30 years (OK, 29, I still have 22 days to go :)) on this planet and I am glad I did because betrayal, backbiting and ridicule of my wonderful religion without doing research aren’t in my dictionary, especially if you are someone close. Those people I remember with both fondness and pain. I am not the sort of person to hold a grudge nor would one mistake, no matter how big, erase every good that a person has ever done in my eyes but I am also someone who does not forget easily (I am blessed with a strong memory). I remember them fondly for all the good moments and sweet memories we shared and feel pain whenever what they ended up doing comes to mind. I do love them though, and believe that I always will! So why did I let them go? The first reason is that I believe that they wanted to be let go! If they cared about our friendship, they would have behaved differently or at least tried to rectify the situation after the damage had been done. I know that I am notorious for giving second chances but I too have red lines that cannot be crossed, just like everyone else, and a second chance doesn’t always drag out to a third, fourth and fifth. The other reason is that I gave each of them a chance to admit fault (even if unintentional) and make things right and they didn’t take it. Finally, a lesson that I only learned in the past few years led me to be at peace with my decision; if someone only causes you pain, anger, stress, illness or any sort of negativity in your life then it’s better to let them go otherwise your life will be poisoned! I believe this with all my heart and as I grow older I am learning the value of this lesson more and more with each passing day and wish I had learned it sooner. I am not a big fan of cutting people out of my life so I encourage you, my readers, to try taking every other possible route before resorting to such an extreme measure. Don’t do yourself a disservice in the process though. If whoever you cut out decides to make amends or apologize, welcome them with open arms and forgive them but maybe rethink the dynamics of your new relationship just to protect yourselves, at least that’s what I would do.
To me, friends and social life are not the same thing. I have very close friends who I haven’t seen or heard their voice in 17 years! I also have acquaintances that we meet up with regularly and have fun but wouldn’t call them friends. Friendship is more profound to me than being equated with a social life. Of course a social life is important, but not as important as good friends. Many people may argue that you cannot live without a social life, well, I can and I did! When we moved to the States my husband’s job entailed that we switch states every 2-3 months so there was no way we could make friends in such a short time. We lived without a social life for two whole years, just us four! It was difficult, granted, but we have so much fun as a family that it didn’t really impact us that bad and it was doable. I am not saying it’s advisable, I am saying it’s possible. However, I cannot see myself without any friends. Quality is more important to me than quantity (which isn’t important to me at all, actually) so one friend is all I need to keep me content. I think it’s a gender thing, I don’t know about men but I don’t think any woman can survive without that one confidante in her life, at least. It’s about feeling understood and not having to explain every single thing you feel, think or say. Even if a woman has the most amazing partner, she still needs her girlfriends. We also tend to talk a lot, and I mean A LOT (yes, I admit it) and not every man is capable of listening attentively that long, if you know what I mean 😉 Another thing is that when we talk to our partners, they want to help by doing something, they feel like they need to fix your problem and if you aren’t talking about a problem to begin with then they lose focus and can’t get the point of what you’re saying. Not women, we know exactly what our friend is saying and can tell whether she’s just venting and needs someone to listen, needs advice or is in deep trouble and needs us to assemble the troops.
So cherish your friends, make them feel loved and make sure to do an effort to keep them and to stay in touch. It can be a call every few months, an email every few weeks or a chat twice a day! It doesn’t really matter as long as the love and respect are there. What matters is that you are there for them when they need you and that you let them know exactly how important and precious they are to you. Appreciation is such a wonderful thing and feeling loved and appreciated can make a whole lot of a difference in someone’s life. So, enrich your friends’ lives by letting them know how important they are to you, you may make someone’s day or change their lives forever by doing so.
I love all my friends, those I still talk to and those that I lost touch with because of my travels and life in general. I keep bugging most of them by thanking them again and again for all what they did, and continue to do, for me and, sometimes, my family. I make a real effort to find and reconnect with people who I lost touch with because it’s important to me that they know that they touched my life. Just two weeks ago I managed to find someone who I had lost touch with 8 years ago and about a year earlier I found several friends that I had lost touch with 17 years ago! So, yes, I am adamant and I don’t mind spending a decade or more trying to find someone who I truly care about and love. I hope that inspires you to hold your friends dear and close to your heart and to let them know how much they mean to you.
Charlotte W., Yasmina H., Dina S., Iman A., Sally E. and Sally W. … you girls are my rock, I love you with all my heart and cannot thank God enough for having you in my life. May God protect you, your families and loved ones and I hope that your lives will always be filled with people who are just as amazing as you are xoxo