At the beginning of this year, I decided to evaluate my friendships. I picked out all those friends that have remained true to me and decided that I would plan activities on a regular basis and the ones that made the most effort to show up, have a good time and leave the negative at home, would be the relationships I fostered the most. This has helped me to identify the superficial from the authentic friendships. Keep in mind that this is my own personal criteria and everyone differs on what they feel constitutes a real friendship. Let’s face it, not all friendships are going to be deep and meaningful and realistically we can’t expect that from everyone. However, I do feel it possible to have more than one friend that I can call “authentic” and my goal is to build a support system with others who feel the same way.
A common aspect of all friendships that I hear on a regular basis is that the majority of us lack trust in one another. I have heard many comments about how hard it is to find a trustworthy friend for men and women alike; that ride or die friend that will be there through thick or thin. We all have that one friend that we know we can count on to support us, not judge us or compete with us. All of us claim to have that one “real” friend, that elusive friend that just seems to be on the same page with us and there to motivate, not discourage. So if we all have the same complaint, then why is it so hard to have more than one meaningful friendship?
It is time for my two cents on this issue. First and foremost, it is hard to identify a good friend when we make little time to interact socially beyond Twitter, Facebook and texting. I am guilty of this myself, so I cannot point fingers, but I do feel that utilizing these as social outlets is a detriment to our relationships. It is just too easy to simply post and follow each other via our phones as opposed to making a personal call or scheduling a time to meet one another. I often find out about my friend’s ailments. troubles and accomplishments via one of these methods and instead of calling to offer support or congratulate, I simply post a response. We cannot get rid of technology and I feel it can even be useful if utilized in the right manner. So why not send a personal text to that individual or have an e-card delivered directly to them as opposed to just being one of many posting on their Facebook or re-tweeting? I believe that even if you are on the go a lot, which most of us are, we can still make time to send a simple message saying hello to one another. I also believe that life is just not that busy to where you cannot make an effort to attend events with your friends or loved ones. I am working on this myself, so I understand all too well how this cop-out is used on a regular basis. Yet, if I expect to receive support, I have to lend it as well. If you find this is one-sided, that is probably not the relationship you want to foster.
I also believe that our values can get in the way of our friendships. There are many of us trying to climb the corporate ladder, be the perfect significant other or the perfect parent. With all this need to succeed and be perfect, we forget to focus on the simple pleasures in life of just being and enjoying everyday occurrences. Life constantly gets in the way and many of us hate to admit that it is a struggle and can be found only sharing the triumphants with one another and not the trials. We try to put on airs for each other, thus preventing authentic relationships. By this, I mean if we are too busy with the superficial then how can we expect the authentic to occur? My pet peeve has always been someone calling themselves a friend, yet they only allow me to see one side of themselves. In my opinion, these are classified as superficial and while there is no need to really disassociate oneself, it is probably not a relationship that would classify as an “authentic friendship.
There are many of us who spend the majority of our day in an office for a company that fosters disloyalty. It used to be common to be part of an office atmosphere that encouraged camaraderie, where employees felt secure and equally challenged. However, in companies these days, morale is often low or non-existent and employees are used as pawns to serve a purpose for the company. You would think that some of our best friendships would derive from the business place, and some have, but the overall consensus is that it is a ‘every one out for themselves’ type of mentality. Therefore, most of the day is spent “watching your back”, dotting your i’s and crossing your t’s, so that you can maintain your livelihood. One of the main reasons I chose to leave Corporate America is due to this very reason and the exhausting process of battling someone trying to constantly tear you down while attempting to remain professional and keep your job secure. Insecurities are a natural part of life, but when they affect your relationships and everyday life, it is time to evaluate yourself and work to overcome these issues. It is not your coworker, friend or family’s responsibility to help you feel secure enough to function everyday, it is your responsibility.
Another major issue I believe that prevents us from having the friendships we desire is due to the fact that people have the wrong motives for friendships. A friendship is not a one-sided event, it cuts both ways. If you fail to listen to others and only like to hear yourself talk, then how can you expect to have an authentic relationship? Do you really think someone wants to sit there only listening to you all day and not being heard themselves? The world should not only revolve around you at all times. Sure, there are going to be several moments that are all about you but there needs to be a balance where everyone feels respected and appreciated. Most of us find that we encounter people who are completely self-centered and socially ignorant. They lack the basic social skills to interact with others in a positive give and take manner. I call these type of friends the “leeches”. These are the friends who drain you mentally because they are only in your life to meet their own needs. The weak ones prey off your strength, the superficial ones are there because you have something they want and the two-faced ones like to smile in your face while they secretly despise you. I cannot tell you how many people I have cut off due to this leech mentality. If the friendship does not make you feel good, then it is not a friendship and you honestly have no obligation to uphold the relationship. If I dread you, then why should I entertain you? You should not have to change who you are for a friendship, the chemistry should come naturally. If it does not, let it go.
With all this being said, if you do not mind having only one authentic friend, then do not feel the need to change this aspect of your life. However, I know better and I know for me, there are a lot of people who have the potential to be a great friend as I am now finding out. I made a new year’s resolution to slow down and make time for all those I care about. I also know if I take the time and nurture my friendships, I can incorporate this into relationships with my family as well. I have decided to stop hiding behind my phone, Facebook and Twitter. Believe me, there are many who are going to remain a Facebook or Twitter friend; meaning no expectations whatsoever will derive from our relationship. However, if I title you as a friend, then you can best believe that it comes with expectations and that I will uphold my end of the bargain by being an authentic friend in return. Nothing will ever be perfect as we are all flawed, but true friends will accept each other, flaws and all.
Until next time, keep on keeping on being the best you that you can be!