Friendship can be one of the most challenging forms of a relationship to maintain throughout our life time. As young people, we begin developing the patterns and setting expectations in what we look for and require in a friendship. This pattern, whether positive or negative, often carries on into adulthood. Some may spend a lifetime entrenched in surrounding themselves with all the wrong people. On the other hand, others may search tirelessly for people who they trust and feel valued by. Regardless of age, connecting and finding those who uplift you more than bring you down can be tough stuff.
Friends Create Experiences
This past weekend was spent on my parent’s ninety-five acre farm with fifteen teenagers and four other chaperones all super stoked to be on an annual retreat. For the past twelve years, a different batch of kids hop on a bus headed in for one of the best weekends of their lives. I love it. From the the top of my head to the tips of my toes, I dig it.
To be able to challenge and encourage kid’s hearts is nothing short of fantastic. We focus on trust, personal and group challenges. And they are challenged to re-evaluate how they are living their life. Part of that is who they surround themselves with. I LOVE watching their wheels spin and their ability to reflect and realign what they want out of their now. Many begin looking at the people around them on the retreat. Some they have known (or think they have known) for years and with others their relationship extends little beyond the classroom or hallway interactions.
Friendships Require Trust
In a short time, through discussion and challenge, they begin to realize how quickly everything they thought they knew about the people around them wasn’t what they thought it was. You see, we are all guilty of judging by the exterior or what we think we know from preconceived notions and brief experiences. Rather, the reality is, real friendship and quality relationships consists of trust, loyalty and reciprocating the good and the encouraging.
The power and need for positive friendships…
In one weekend, I have witnessed life time friendships establish. It’s awesome. The truth is, it’s taking the step to accept that friendship goes beyond the surface as well as acknowledging the expectations you have for a friend. It’s easy when you’re younger to get caught up in the quantity over quality. However, when we take a step back, things begin to unfold.
So, what is friendship? I mean, real deal, genuine, healthy friendship?
Here are a few ingredients that should be part of those you surround yourself with:
- Trustworthy: being able to know that individual has your back with your best intentions in mind
- Empathetic: they will make an effort to understand whatever you may be going through at the time
- Devoted: a friend is not seasonal, but there for the long haul. They do not fall into gossiping about you, asking you to pick sides. Friendship is 365 days a year, not when one feels like being invested.
- Non-honey moon: You aren’t going to get along all the time. Therefore, be prepared to chat about disagreements, different view points, etc. Chat with them and not others. One way phone calls are much less complicated and misconstrued than the three-way conference call.
- Reciprocation: this is the mother ship. If you are the only doling out the encouragement or, “I’m here for you any time of day” vibe there’s something wrong. Friendship is a two-way street. Sometimes it’s lopsided, but overall it can’t be a one-way road. That’s not friendship in any way, shape or form.
- Iron sharpens Iron: When it comes to your inner circle, having people around you that challenge you, encourage you in being a better person is what it’s all about. If you surround yourself with play dough your only getting squishier and flatter and that’s not a good thing.
- Out for your best interest: This means if you’re not in a good place they are going to tell you. This isn’t “I tell you what you want to hear,” because that’s crap. If you have been struggling with feeling super funky, it’s them encouraging you to chat with a counselor. If you have been making poor choices, it’s calling you out on it. Most noteworthy, a friend has a spine, steps up to the plate and rallies around you when you need it even if you don’t want it.
Quality versus Quantity
One good friend outweighs twenty fair weathered friends. It takes time, patience and knowing what your expectations. Do not waste your time pursuing those who do not pursue you. Distance yourself from toxic individuals who do not make you want to be a better person. The journey of friendship can be one of the most trying, but beautiful things in life. It’s a struggle, but if you make yourself a priority and set expectations it is so worth it. Believe in you and that you are worth having people in your inner circle that adore, uplift and encourage you.
Peace, love and goodness!
What an awesome summary of the true meaning of a friend! You have such a tremendous impact on the Seneca community- especially this group of kids. I thank you for all that you do to help them become better people!!