Friends! Ones we can depend on?
So, this is actually an older post from another blog that I have…but I still wanted to share it.
Let’s start with a surface definition of friend. According to Merriam-Webster online, a friend is one attached to another by affection or esteem; one that is not hostile; one that is of the same nation, party, or group; one that favors or promotes something; or a favored companion. Now with this said, we can talk about the qualities that would lead a person to call another person these things.
Let’s start with the first part of the definition:What attaches me to another by affection or esteem?
The biggest thing for me is trust. Can I trust you? Every relationship should be built on trust. If I feel that I can trust you, then we have an important building block for whatever we are trying to build. I also live by the rule “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This has backfired on me quite a few times however because some people that I chose to call “friend” in the past treated me in a way that really made me question my decision-making skills. Outside of those things, I feel a thread of commonality must be found for me to consider you my friend. This means that we need to share something in common. I don’t really consider a person a friend if we have nothing in common. This is not to say that I couldn’t grow to like something new, but it does mean that if I feel we can’t relate, then I only consider you an acquaintance. The final thing for me is the value system of the other person. What do they believe? Is it vastly different from me? For example, I cannot be friends with a person who hates Muslims. My father is a Muslim. I can’t be friends with a person who does not believe in equality from those different from themselves. I can’t. That’s against my value system. The funny thing about values is this: if you choose to surround yourself with people of an extremely different value system, something about you is going to change….and it might not be for the better.
The second part is: A person that is not hostile.
We all get angry; but the thing is do you live in anger? I don’t think I would like to surround myself with a person who is constantly negative or constantly angry. It makes life harder than it has to be because you forget how to look for the silver lining on your storm clouds. I know that if I constantly surrounded myself with a hostile person, I would probably forget how to smile and smiling is like breathing for me. I just HAVE to do it! So it’s simple. We can not be friends if you are hostile. Period.
The third part is: A person that is of the same nation, party, or group.
This goes back to that thread of commonality. What do we have in common? I have noticed that this plays a role in my selection of friends, especially since I began my undergrad at a predominantly White institution (PWI). For me, I was very uncomfortable the first week or so when I got to my campus (I was allowed to move in a week early). Every morning, I woke up to country. I have no problem with country. I had a problem when I would be asked to turn my R&B off. So I felt out of place with something as universal as music! Then I had questions about my hair like “Do you wash it everyday?” or “Can I touch it?” Now, I have no problem answering those questions. I had a problem answering the questions everyday. So you can imagine my relief when everyone else was allowed to move in and there were 7 of us on my floor (Quick math: What’s 20 * 4 + 2 * 3? 80 +6. We had 86 students per floor not counting the RAs) and I finally had someone to relate to. There were other students like me! Then there are my church friends (most of them are not of the same race/ethnic background). We have a similar value background (I will acknowledge here that most organized religions share the same value systems) and we could talk about something that was important to us AND feel comfortable. So for me, these threads of commonality are important.
The fourth part is: A person that favors or promotes something.
I guess you could place something about values here, but I’ve already mentioned that. So I’ll go another route. What are things that we both enjoy doing (together or alone)? Can I talk to you about classical music? Can I talk to you about different forms of dance? What about art? Do you like to read? My ideal friend would love these art forms. My ideal friend would have an appreciation for all sports (I didn’t say you had to like them, I just said you had to appreciate it). My thing is this. I like a lot of different things and I really don’t feel that you could truly respect me if you don’t appreciate the things that I do. Also, I have found friends with different organizations because they stand for something or they promote something for a group that can not really speak for themselves. I guess what I’m trying to say is this: My friends are allies for humanity and for people to be treated equally.
The fifth is simply: A person who is a favored companion.
For me to favor you, I must love you. There are different types of love and the one I’m speaking of is the kind of love that would allow me to extend to you what I have when you need it. My most favored friends are those that listen and pay attention. They are able to read other people’s emotions. They can admit when they are wrong. They can apologize. A friend that I favor is like family to me. We have our differences but we don’t let those come between the relationship that we are trying to build or the one that we have built already. A friend is also a person who is not going to throw something in your face or take on the characteristics of a highlighter (this means they don’t highlight or pick out things that are “wrong” with you to make themselves feel better).
So I guess you could say that a friend is honest, congenial, focused on bettering themselves and those people or things around them, open-minded, a person that possess a similar value system, a person that love humanity, a person that is kind, and a person who could grow to love me and all of my flaws. As for the number of people I would call a true friend, I don’t really know. This post has caused me to do a lot of thinking about the qualities a friend would possess and I can’t say for sure that I have true friends. I know that I have friends…but how many of them are true?