Having friends means a great deal to a lot of people –even more so when you are teenager who is going through the confusing time of growing up. Most of us rely on friends as our social crutch to function in daily life: that we won’t be alone and we will always have somebody to help us figure things out. As time goes on, though, a friendship can turn sour due to a bunch of reasons –someone’s personal agenda getting in the way or resentment growing over a particular friend being more successful than others. Maintaining a healthy one while pursuing our dreams becomes a very tricky business. Here are some rules of thumb to help you in finding a middle ground:
1. Be supportive.
Taking cue from Mahatma Ghandi’s life wisdom, we should strive to be the kind of change we want to see in the world. In a friendship, this means being the kind of friend that we would actually like to have. As being young gives us the prerogative of dreaming up wild things about our futures, we need somebody who will push us to chase after them instead of shooting us down. Other people do that just fine on their own. But how can we get supportive friends who are crazy enough to go the distance with us? We can start by becoming one, and hopefully others will follow with their own loopy dreams in tow.
2. Be open-minded.
People come in all shapes and sizes and possess different views on how things work. Just because you and your friends are apparently apples and oranges when it comes to certain stuff, that doesn’t mean all of you can’t still get along fabulously. You just need to learn to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. There are reasons why people behave and think the way they do. Get to know their side of story first before passing any judgement. This will teach you to be more understanding and patient, and thus a better friend. Plus, it is also a good training for your listening skills.
3. Bottle up your feelings.
If there is one sure way to kill a friendship, it is when everybody stops communicating and starts to keep everything hidden inside. When there is a conflict, we prefer to just sweep it under the rug than hash it out in the open. We like to think that this is a more dignified way to settle things. But after a while, we will surely drift apart as we begin to harbor negative feelings toward each other. To this I say: Learn to have a fight –verbally, of course. Nobody likes arguing more than the next person, but faking complacency is more toxic for a friendship than having things get ugly for a while.
4. Set up unhealthy competitions.
Jealousy is unavoidable in most friendships, especially when we are surrounded by friends who seem to have been born under the lucky stars. Brains, beauty, and a fairy godmother –they have it all. For us who are less fortunate, this is really annoying. As our way of coping, we might try to outdo each other in every possible way, but playful competitions can quickly veer into the predatory territory if we are not careful. We might even risk damaging our friendship. To avoid this from happening, you need to find your own passion, something you enjoy doing genuinely. This will help you to focus on yourself and put the silly competitions to rest.
Remember, you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with, so put some effort into your friendship and treat it well.
For Speak! May.edition, 2014