Project 14 – Day 5: Friends

Day 5 is about the people who, while may not be constant in my life, are always there for me.

Friend is a very small but potent word whose meaning has been diluted in this social media age.  You might have only met them once, but they’re still a “friend.” You might have not talked to them in years, but you still wish them and a bajillion other people happy birthday like clockwork, because some blinking notification tells you to. You might have never liked them, but you still “like” their funny cat photos, because who doesn’t like funny cat photos?

I think considering these interactions “friendships” is a vapid and shallow reflection of the true meaning and depth of the word. While I have a large and interesting network of people on social media networks, I don’t consider them my friend unless we’ve put in the hours and communication and interaction necessary to build an actual relationship. I don’t bother wishing people happy birthday unless I actually remember it, and I don’t bother liking things that don’t reflect who and what I know of the person.

Now don’t get me wrong, I think technology has done some great things for human interaction. I can g-chat my circle of best friends and it’s almost as good as being there with them, when we all have busy lives in different cities. I can efficiently keep up to date with what people I like and care about decide to share with the world, and I can jump in on interesting conversations people like to start by posting articles, statuses and ideas. I can talk and meet and network with people as near and as far as humanly possible. These are all wonderful advantages of the continuously connected world we live in today.

But it has diluted the meaning of friendship. A friend is not someone you have a tenuous link to through a thread of the cyber web. You can build a strong friendship through the internet, sure, but just because that link exists doesn’t mean it’s strong enough to deserve be considered a friendship. Friendship is a heavy responsibility, and a wonderful gift, because a friend is someone who you know will always be there for you, and who you would always be there for, no questions asked.

I’m fortunate to have many, many people that I can call friends. I wasn’t always that lucky; if you’ve read some of my previous blog posts, you’ll know I was a very awkward child, and I still am a very awkward person. I mentioned in a previous post that I didn’t really know how to make friends, and my first foray into the world of best-friendom was also my first encounter with a sociopath. Now, I’m biased, and I’m not totally blameless, and I’m never going to understand or want to understand her “side” of what happened, so whether she was actually a sociopath is debatable. I do know that she left some very deep scars in my heart that only the very timely and very caring intervention of my first real friends healed.

They were amazing people, in that they recognized how hurt I was, and took me in and befriended me, no questions asked. When my ex-best friend turned the rest of the class against me, they stood with me, even though it was the six of us versus everyone else. Thanks to them, I had something approximating a normal middle school experience. Thanks to them, I have more happy memories than sad ones. Thanks to them, I was able to trust again, and make more friends, instead of being stunted, hunted, and depressed. They saved my life, and they’re the first people I can honestly call friends.

In high school, I found it was a lot easier to make friends when nobody hates you and sees you as a threat, and to my ever-lasting surprise, some people actually liked me if they weren’t told not to first. I met and befriended several amazing and interesting people in high school, some so similar that we can complete each other sentences sometimes, and some so different that I have learned some things that I really shouldn’t have from them. We didn’t have a whole lot of drama – we used to joke that we were all too busy with having fun, school, and, later, university applications to be bothered. Even though we’d been working towards our diplomas for a good twelve years, graduation was sad because we knew we were all heading to different universities and different directions in life. I know with these people, though, I will always be able to call them friends.

Making and maintaining friendships is a lot easier when you’re thrown together for long periods of time by necessity, like you are in school. It was more difficult in University. Most of my friends are people I’ve lived with, or people that are in the same program or extracurriculars as me, and for the longest time I stupidly felt like that our friendship was somehow less than the connection that I shared with my friends in high school because it was different. But that’s so wrong, and undervalues what I share with these people. They’re definitely different from the relationships I have with my high school friends, but they’re equally as valuable to me because they share what’s important in friendships: the ability to share and develop interests together, the ability to laugh at each other, and the ability to care about each other. They’re people I’m proud to call my friends.

When you meet me, I might seem like I call everyone my friend, but really, I’m very picky. I’ve just been very fortunate to meet many wonderful people in my lifetime. They’ve been there for me through my worst, celebrated with me through my best, helped me up when I fell, and helped me rise even higher. They’ve made me smile through my tears, and laugh through my rage. They make me believe that I can be a better person than I am, and that I can do bigger things than I feel I can. They’ve been with me through the every day, and the extraordinary. While others may depend on the kindness of strangers, I know I always have the support of friends.

To everyone who I consider a friend, to everyone who considers me a friend, I make a promise to you. I promise you that I will be there for you through your worst, and I will celebrate with you through your best. I will help you up when you fall, and I will help you rise even higher. I will do my best to help you smile through your tears, and laugh through your rage. I promise that I will be there through the every day and the extraordinary. No matter how far we are, you will always be near to my heart, and you will never have to depend on the kindness of strangers so long as I call you my friend.

I love you guys.

Project 14 is how I’m going to start my journey of self discovery, to memorialize  who I am when I start chronicling my life. Each day, I’ll approach who I am through a different paradigm people use to define themselves. Read more about it at my About page.

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