Thursday, June 09, 2016

Friendship



Friendship

From a young age, we developed all kinds of friendships. The neighbourhood offered us friends. School fostered friends. We might have found friends at church, at summer camp, or even in the midst of our family relations — brothers, sisters or cousins. Our development of childhood friends was based primarily on a common interest — the art of having fun.

As kids, we probably didn't see those friendships as involving any kind of support system. They were just friends, sometimes our "best" friends, but it was rare that we would ever turn to one of these friends with a problem. After all, that kind of sharing was antithetical to the whole concept of sharing good times, not dark thoughts or concerns.

As we grew older, friendships began to broaden in scope. Not only did we enjoy the company of friends in social situations, we also came to depend on our friends as advisers. As life became more complicated, we began to rely on the advice of our friends to uncomplicate things.

Socializing took on more difficult decisions to make. The days of innocent play took on the mantle of playing out certain roles with which we had little or no experience. Things like smoking, drinking alcohol, or doing drugs defined certain groups of our peers, and if we wanted to be a part of those groups, we had to adopt the role of accepting and being involved in those activities. Peer pressure? I'm sure you remember it well.

After we grew into young adults, friendship became much more specialized. Most of us maintained or developed friendships that were somehow deeper emotionally and based not only on common interests but also on a common empathy. We made friends with people who understood us as complete human beings, people with whom we were able to share both good and bad experiences. When we needed someone with whom to talk out problems, we turned to our friends. True friends listened.

As time slips by, true friends can become a rare commodity. It's like there's a thinning of the herd, and that group of friends that you enjoyed so much becomes smaller and smaller in number. For some people, the number dwindles to zero. Many seniors are left to struggle alone, turning from peer friendship to the companionship of their children for some kind of comfort through their later years.

There's no magic formula for developing and maintaining friendships. Being kind and understanding goes a long ways to keeping your friends close. Showing interest in other people's lives is equally important. The key seems to be that the more you worry about yourself — your health, your finances, your family — the more you begin to shrink as a person. Your life becomes so self-centred that there is literally no room for the give-and-take that all good friendships embody.

If it's always all about you, then you will be the only you in the mix.


 








 








 
 


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