If you think that you are done with friends in life, it’s time you tell yourself a different story.
Like love, friendship is a thick soupy word and a messy business. It’s hard to be friends with someone who couldn’t hold your hands, or cut loose your heart strings. It’s harder to look for companionship if it comes with the shroud of secrecy surrounding it. Friendship is rather a stretchy word. It’s more of a life choice that you hesitate to fully buy into, fearing darker truth may come out later.
Friendship means something different every time we say it. It’s what a relationship isn’t. You may find good mature acquaintances but they don’t really get you good lasting friendship. At times hopelessly vague; ‘calling them a friend’ doesn’t help. “Let’s just be friends” is a no less confusing either because it could mean anything. From bosom friend to pink of a crush, all it does is communicate what you never meant in the first place.
In fact, there is not one single great word for the kind of relationship that you have with the ones you love or loved. Give the requited attention a miss and the other person won’t find you awesome enough to hit it off.
Yet you shrug and say, “Sure.” And try again. But it’s weird and gets murkier.
When you think about it, you have no idea what it means to be with real friends.
Perhaps ‘friend’ is a catch-all high sign that helps in ignoring bittersweet emotions.
Get into the Act
I grew up a shy introvert with terrible socializing barriers and was often shelled with embarrassing suggestions by those around me. Honestly, I did muster enough courage to try them all and overcome my fears. But soon I realized that it’s lot easier and more effective to be kind than to try to act confident.
I never tried to compete with the extroverts. I let them win at their game. Instead, I decided to invent my own circle—went all-in on being as thoughtful as possible and this is what I found out.
Everyone loves to hang out one time or the other, with the person who won’t say or do anything to hurt your feelings. But not wanting to hurt someone’s beliefs and opinions isn’t friendship. Real friends never coddle egos. They always tell the truth, love spending time together and never get awkward in each other’s company. Good news, bad news and secrets, they share everything. Gossip and late night wakes; it’s all part of lives in bonhomie.
Like everybody else, I too wanted to be friends with every single person on this planet. Probably more so, but not with someone who wants kinda attention that I’d prefer not to give. I had learned that coming out with the truth was way better off than using words that are so vulnerable to misinterpretation. When you tell somebody you want to be friends, but you really don’t, you are not letting them down gently. Mocking hits like a harsh acquittal. It hurts no matter how gently you have hurled the bomb.
Perhaps sometimes we get to learn about friends the hard way.
Are true friends hard to get by!
In university one of my buddies fell hard for a gal who wasn’t into him. She had a crush for a guy Robin who looked smarter and was perhaps wealthier. Of course, Robin wasn’t into her.
It confused and hurt everybody, especially my mate.
But it was kinda different too. Both heand the girl were doing fine and everything a couple would, except touch. Dates, long walks, deep conversations, partying ; it seemed fascination was blossoming. One day he asked her if she thought friendship could turn into romance. He would muse how his mom couldn’t stand his dad before they got married. A day later she uninvited him to a party.(Robin was going to be there.). What followed was enough to shake up things badly. Sullen moods and peppery behaviour crept in slowly. Finally he couldn’t take it anymore, and stopped returning her calls.
A year went by, and then one day both ran into each other. She came up and regretted. “Can we be friends?”
“What do you mean…?” he asked.
“If I see you, I’d like to come up and say hi.” It sounded more like she wanted him to acquit her of all guilt. Both agreed to smile and wave if their paths ever crossed. Fears of misplaced trust, broken promises and brazen lies, all fell apart in that one moment of regret.
Fortunately, he never saw her again.
That story tells what lot many people mean when they say they want to be friends, yet prefer kind of stealth friendship where deeper feelings never grow. If you are honest you usually wouldn’t want to be “just friends”. It’s hard but being “real friends” means you don’t hold onto your emotions and actually make yourself available to someone who might requite your feelings.
Real life stories like this one grow on trees but payoffs are important!
Contemplating a relationship as a sack of rotten tomatoes when things turn sour, is like eyeing everything with serious skepticism. Crush aside, you should expect no one to be your real friend until you stop wanting romance to creep in your emotions. Before then, being around them will only rip your heart apart.
Funny! There is a simple fix for this
Nobody is hard wired to spend time crying out for someone who cheats under the cloak of stealth friendship, forever. And you need not hate somebody to realize that they are not good for you either. It’s nobody ‘s fault. The chemistry simply hasn’t struck. The slyness has prevailed!
So, gift yourself the truth! Firstly to be friends you need to ease off being sheep eyed. And in the second place, if you think of someone as your friend each time you look for favors; then honestly you are not ready for friendship.
Ease off till you could show some respect to your affinity. Pull up your head, put aside your phones and the world around you will no longer be clueless. Smiling, holding doors and saying hello to strangers; those powerful gestures will make you stand out. Seeing people, acknowledging them, showing some respect might mean you are charming and perhaps charismatic too. Trust me, the frenzy of warm hands reaching out to you, in turn, would leave you overwhelmed.
But is it enough to get you good friends; the real ones?
Countless times I have met people who didn’t click right away, only to be heard of later with a friendly gesture of sorts; sometimes through a mutual friend on social networking, at others maybe for a book exchange or casual film recommendation. These interactions spoke little but emotionally measured high. I guess, it’s kinda hard for me now to dislike someone who was thoughtful enough to have gone to lengths and make an effort to reach out!
Some people couldn’t make easy initial connections. If you are one of them, give yourself some time to dazzle. Once you think you have made the right choice and want to make a connect, reach out with whatever little beans you could muster to make their lives a bit brighter, even if in a small way.
Today, I gather I was right about my insights in the first place. Aches and pains not withstanding, I had aced the key to finding a soul buddy!! You may find my suggestions a tad basic, but that’s the point! If I have learned anything during my journey from a shy, floundering kid to a quiet thoughtful, self inventing, all smiles person who takes stock of the world in HD, I believe I did my basics well enough to have led myself so well.
If you are an introvert, don’t curse yourself for this innate skill. Hang on to it, for the one who listens, is rare and precious. Only a handful of us actually has this gift that sets us apart. Don’t chide yourself either, if you couldn’t hold onto to your lead. “You only get one chance to make a first impression”; every Tom, Dick and Sally would love to tear into you. Sure! But a lot has changed and this cliche’ is your buried past now. Chance to strike a conversation is just a click away!
How would you feel if you open your phone and a message is waiting from someone you just met, wishing you well for your upcoming interview? Or how about you sending a one-of-a-kind get-well-soon message to your ailing elderly neighbor?
Uh oh! No this isn’t about copywriting beauty and the beast. Privy characteristics such as kindness turn emotions toasty, takes the chill off and outwits brains and air when it comes to accepting connections! So do a little jig, get yourself out of the weeds. You will have fun and find joy reaching out to real friends.
Happiness needs a warm hand
A real friendship never sucks! It stems from mutual understanding and respect. It’s not meant to serve pleasure or purpose all the times. Rather a good friend is for friendship sake; the gold equivalent of human relationship. A lucky few of us might get a handful of real friends in our lives and it shouldn’t matter if they are relatively new. It’s their uniqueness that makes them amazing and priceless.
I have always found the intriguing connection between friends, happiness and longevity a bit weird but promising. The cutting edge made me feel zesty. I found myself surrounded by good people- people who never failed to remind me if I needed a haircut; people who complimented me and hauled me over in crises. Life never fell short of league of gentle folks. Listen, watch, notice and praise…these were small actions, but they helped me feel good for everything about me, admire myself and have strong ties with others.
If you are anything like me, rub some dirt on your fears, sell yourself a lot of quality friendship and trust me, you will ripe through a ‘golden-over-the-hill’ life. Try not to forget that real friends are meant to share concerns and confidences, build trust and not always be a sham listener or a crazy admirer.
Sometimes you cannot push a special connection between friends. It just happens. Two people come together, who find ease between them instantly and are comfortable in their skins. Laughing away at silly jokes for hours or talking the night away; a lasting relationship begins to fall into place between two people who understood each other well by simply being themselves. The spark wouldn’t douse even if the two “thieve” enormous pint or two of bourbon and celebrate!
So! where would you find the kindred-spirit that accommodates your mood, occasionally mimics intimacy and excites you in ways different than those you would otherwise face when spending time alone; quietly. Could you think up of an egghead who has all the signs of a true friend? Where should you look for one and know if that somebody is the big Daddy you were hunting for?
Taverns, bars, coffee shops, clubs, and even rec rooms are the usual joints that foster inner circles among people. Yeah! This is the tribe of savvy thinkers who will get you to realize that all that sweating, lifting and walking is not absolutely necessary for finding happiness. It is here that sharp contrast of unselfish indulgences change hands. It is here that your voice could finally get to grow some teeth. And, it is here that a good Johnny-on-the-spot could hammer some sense out of your successes, failures, opportunities and help you choose differently.
Someday you will make the naysayers jealous
I never realized that rushing lifestyles could reduce relationships into commodities so fast. It has left every relationship hanging by thread and every affinity slain of excitement. In all our complexities, we have shrunk to titles and net worth and eye each other as a means to an end. It is difficult to know who is legit and who pretends.
It all feels so punishing and fiendishly difficult…isn’t so?
Putting on a smiley face or saying right things and turning their back when the going gets tough, makes a difficult choice between deceit and uprightness. Props in hard times alone do not matter. A friend is someone who genuinely wants to see you succeed and is happy to see things go well for you in life; each time, every time. A true mate loves the person you are, with all the flaws and quirks and imperfections.
That doesn’t mean friends agree all the times. Rattling opinions help expand horizons! If your choice has been the right one, you will find yourself surrounded with people who share your values but warn you the moment you start falling off the track.
Worse luck! if your buddy wouldn’t help you to make the right choice even if that means saying something that you never wanted to hear in the first place.
“Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.” ~ Albert Camus.
Close affinities like good friends just don’t pop out of nowhere and mature fast. So, if you happen to have more than a handful of real good ones, you are indeed blessed. Making and keeping real friends smells of a rare experience. Each lasting friendship represents a world within us, a world that is not born until they arrive. And it is only when we bump into each other, a new world is born for us.
So, get busy being an amazing human being. Be a good one and knight hearted. If you haven’t reached out in a while to the people in your life who love and support you; learn to do so. The awe of discovering a BFF will smitten you for good. Perhaps then you could make out what Mary Tilley (94) of two children, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, meant of Evelyn Hodge as friend- they had lived next door to each other for over 72 years in Britain– when she mused;“Evelyn is great company”.
Someday you too might as well get to get a real good friend who celebrates life with you.
Till then, keep smiling and face up…
It’s never too late to walk off into the sunset!!