The word FRIEND seems to have lost its significance lately. Think about it for a moment. Have you heard people talk about how many friends they have on social media sites? And then there’s the unfriend status when someone is offended, angered (or maybe even jealous). Sometimes people don’t even know when they’ve been unfriended. If a friendship can end with a single click, was the person ever really your friend?
No person is your friend who demands your silence or denies your right to grow. ~Alice Walker
Have you ever thought about the qualities that you look for in a friend? Not a “Social Media Friend” but a real friend. Here are some basic qualities that I look for: shared interests, respect, loyalty, support, and a sense of humor.
People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.
Friendships come and go (and sometimes return). If you have had the same friends throughout your lifetime, then you’re extremely fortunate. Most friendships, like songs, seem to outline memorable moments in a person’s life. Have you ever been flooded with a range of emotions when a particular song comes on, or a person’s name is mentioned? For me, my brain immediately becomes a racetrack with several moments pushing their way to the forefront of my memory. As I started thinking more and more about the reasons, seasons, and lifetime quote, categories of what friendships mean in our lives emerged. Let me know if you agree.
A friend is gift you give to yourself. ~Robert Louis Stevenson
School friends, specifically high school and college, are the first real friends that you choose. School friends are made independently, without the guidance (and approval) of a parent. Whether you first met in class, school grounds, sports, clubs, or a school event, YOU are the one that decided whether you wanted this person in your life.
Shared experiences may include: Academic & Sports Achievements/Struggles, Relationships, Peer Pressure, Bullying, Virginity, Promiscuity, Pregnancy, Abortion, Alcohol, Drugs, Physical or Sexual Abuse, Illness, or even Death.
School friends may know:
Your first “real” boyfriend or girlfriend
Who you liked, “hooked up” with, or even loved
If you tried, used, or became addicted to alcohol or drugs
If or when you lost your virginity (and who)
If you became pregnant, had a miscarriage or abortion
If you were physically, verbally or sexually abused
If you contemplated suicide
If you were anorexic or bulimic
If you were bullied or the bully
If you succumbed to peer pressure
Let’s be honest, many of these friends know about moments that you may like to forget. At the same time, they are the people who, like YOU, learned about life in a 4-8 year period, through a lot of trial and error. School friends are your first real friends.
Work friends see you almost everyday. Many of them become your confidantes and sounding boards for whatever is going on at work or home.
Shared experiences: Bosses, Employees, Customers, and Career Objectives
Work friends may know:
If you are happy, sad, angry or frustrated on any particular day
If you are dieting or working out
If you are having problems in your relationship
If you are having problems with your car, home, or finances
If you or a family member are having health issues
Community friends also see us on a regular basis. They are your fellow committee/organization members, teammates, or maybe the parents of a sport, club, group or organization that your child is involved in. You see them as often as the activity or group meets. While you or your children participate, you connect.
Shared experiences: Children, Community Objectives
Community friends may know everything that work friends know and:
If your child is having academic or behavioral issues
If you are concerned about work, home or extended family
Friends are the family you choose. ~Jess C. Scott
Family friends (aka Framily) are your chosen family. They may have started out as school friends, work friends, community friends, or friends of friends. However you met, they have become a part of your family. Their names are automatically included on the guest list for birthdays, holidays, weddings, and graduations.
Shared experiences: Family Values, Life Goals, Health & Fitness, Sports, and Vacation Destinations
Family friends may know what everyone else knows because they were either there or they have heard all of the stories. They are the first friends to come to your aid when something tragic happens in your life. They are the first friends to make you laugh when you can’t find your smile. They are the first friends to lend a helping hand when you’ve fallen down and out. They are the first friends to tell you the truth when no one else will. They are the first friends to defend you when others distort the truth. They are the first friends that you thought when you read the category of family friends!
The most I can do for my friend is simply be his friend. ~Henry David Thoreau
Real friendships cannot be measured by how many likes, comments, shares, reposts or retweets are on your social media sites. Yes, your lives get busy after you graduate. Yes, your children grow up and change activities. Yes, your career paths change. However, real friendships can still exist. It just takes more effort, than the click of a button.
You see your family friends regularly at each other’s homes, planned outings, and special occasions. And then there are those friends that you don’t get to see very often. Yet, they still have a permanent place in your heart because of the memorable moments in your life, at the time of the friendship. In the end, real friends never leave your memories or heart.
I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light. ~Helen Keller