How to be (or try your best to be) a good friend

Being a friend is one of the most important roles we have in life. Without friends life wouldn’t just be boring-we wouldn’t have anyone to laugh about all the stupid mistakes we make, ring up when we feel worthless and pour out our hearts to and share our passion for XYZ.

We make friends with people for a number of reasons. Proximity: the first person we see on our first day at school at the sandtray can often turn out to be our best friend just for that reason. Then there’s a shared interest or passion. The main point is that we have a choice with friends, unlike family. Though, some people don’t seem to realise this-me being one of them for a long time.

At age sixteen experienced is one thing I am not. However, I’ve had enough of them to know a fair bit about friends. And I can honestly say that I am not a bad friend. So here are my five tips based on what I have learned about friendship.

  1. Honesty. This isn’t just important. This quality can tell you straight away whether or not you should be friends with someone in the first place. Liars aren’t friends. The issue is being able tell if someone is lying. It took me two years to realise that my ‘best friend’ when I was ten was manipulating me and I was allowing her to bully me because I believed her lies. I let her tell me that I wasn’t clever or good enough and that knock to my confidence still affects me today. I was in such a close friendship with her that even when I had recognised that I was unhappy, I took a long time to break off our friendship. But it was worth all the tears and upset because now I have a much better set of friends. My closest friends are the ones I can trust to be open with and we are just honest with each other. I mean, you don’t have to tell them everything. Some things you have the right to keep to yourself. Most of my friends don’t know that I had counselling a few months ago. My family doesn’t even know that either. That doesn’t mean I’m a liar, though. That is my personal information to share with the people that I want to tell and hide from those that I don’t. My point is that I believe the importance in honesty is not spilling your every last secret to the other person, but feeling comfortable and happy enough to share your thoughts, feelings and ideas freely.
  2. YOU. A friendship is a relationship between two people and, of course, one of them is you. So be you! I don’t have much confidence, but I am not afraid to be me. I’ll be honest, sometimes I get tired of being me and I wish that I could be someone else, but I can’t and I just have to embrace my personality. Then again, if you’re in a pretty bad mood it doesn’t mean you should feel like you have to act happy for your friends. Being yourself is also being human, meaning you are allowed to have days where you feel terrible. Friends are there to help you through those times.
  3. THEM. And of course, there is the friend. Don’t be so wrapped up in your own life, problems and drama that you forget about theirs. There must be a balance of support between both friends for the relationship to work. So let them be THEM. They are allowed to be upset, angry, cranky just like you are. And even if you don’t quite understand how they feel, they need you to be there.This is really important because it’s easy to disregard something just because it doesn’t make any sense to us. But just showing the support they need is sometimes enough to help you friend. Though, you must know them and want to know about them. Tiny things build up, so let them tell you about their grandma’s favourite type of tea or their secret ability to ride a unicycle. You don’t have to remember every detail, but how can you expect to be friends with someone if you aren’t interested in them? This is what I find key in making new friends. Trying to ask questions about them is so much more effective than waffling about yourself. Don’t turn into the person that stops listening until it’s their turn to talk! Like I said, it’s all about balance.
  4. Fun. Relationships can be complicated, difficult and just plain confusing; especially during the teenage years when there’s bitching, gossiping, immaturity, hormones, drama and all that jazz. However, we mustn’t forget that friendship IS about having fun as well as the mutual support. Often having fun comes from just being yourself and letting go. A lot of people seem to think that those who laugh loudest and act craziest have the most fun. Well, I don’t think that’s true at all. Most of the times I’ve had a load of fun have been simply hanging out, walking to and from school and on the odd occasion through a phone call. We didn’t need alcohol. We didn’t have to do anything particularly silly or stupid. We didn’t need to force it. We simply made jokes or chatted or played twister (yes, I know I’m sixteen years old. Yes, it’s still acceptable to play twister, I don’t care what anyone thinks. ) and had some fun.
  5. Sometimes it doesn’t work out. Don’t beat yourself up about it. People change, things change, life moves on. Some friends will stick with you and some won’t-just like you do or don’t for others. Seeing people around school that I was once very close to laughing and talking with people I don’t even know is hard, especially when I wonder how things might have been different if I  hadn’t let our friendship fizzle out. But then I have to remind myself of all the great things I could have missed if that had happened. So the most important thing I believe to remember is to make sure you hold on to the friends you really love, and the for the ones you lose, there will be more to make. And even if you fight and do things you regret, there are ways back if they were (are!) a true friend. I called up my friend who now goes to a different school today. I haven’t seen her in person since October and I couldn’t help feeling kind of sad that I don’t see her everyday like I used to. I don’t make silly doodles in the margins of her notebooks or flick through mine to find hers. She doesn’t sit with me at lunchtime and laugh at the way I eat a panini. We don’t look across the room at each other and laugh at something only we find funny. But that’s okay. I mean, there isn’t going to be someone to do all of those things and be the brilliant person and friend the way she had, but there will be new people that do other things. One day I will look back and there will be so many memories and little things people do that makes part of their personality and part of their friendship with me that I won’t remember them all. That cheers me up.

In the end,the key to friendship and being a good friend is not through a set of rules. There is no recipe (and even if it was, it would be a souffle or something pretty darn hard!).

When you’re little your parents and schoolteachers try to teach you to be kind and respectful and polite. But they don’t teach you how to deal with the huge number of assholes you come across in your life. You have to make your way past them and learn to let go of them when you realise that no, they are not friends, they are simply assholes.

Even when you find the best friend or the group of friends you love, no one tells you that puberty and parents deciding to move across the country and just change in general have chosen to shake everything up like a tacky snowglobe. You land on the ground and have to start rebuilding again, whether it’s your fault or not. And that’s before people start dating. No one warns you that you are going to end up being the fifth wheel on what should be a double date; or that you and your best friend would have a crush on the same person. Or even that you might have to face heartbreak alone.

Friendship is harder than it seems. Often harder than romantic relationships. But I know that it’s worth it. It’s worth all of the tears, all of the lonely years and all of the pain because one day you look around and every face you see you trust and love.

This was a (late, sorry!) response to the writing challenge for Writing 201

Endless Possibility

The idea that everything is connected becomes most interesting when applied to ourselves. For this week’s writing challenge, tell us about your own Butterfly Effect

It is the single tiny thing that caught my eye,

The little curving line below your lip,

That only adorned a true smile,

Or a hearty laugh.

That same little line now traps me

Behind bars of torment and pain,

Each time the memory flashes before me;

A tiny line is carved into me.

And every time I think of your beauty,

Of your magical imperfection

That the line taught me to find in you,

It pushes deeper into the wound

Knowing that I’ll never see the

Tiny part of you

Which started it all

And I can’t help but think

If that mark of happiness

Never accompanied your smile

Would I have ever known you?

Would we ever have been together?

Would I have ever fallen in love?

We are given so many opportunities, it is hard to know which ones we should take. The endless possibility of the world is both exciting and overwhelming.

Relationships are already tough. It only takes one tiny thing, the flap of a butterfly wing, to break. And once the bond that took so long to build has fallen, there’s no going back. It’s unlikely things will ever be the same between those two people. Often, couples wrapped up in love that they become oblivious to the fragile nature of love and relationships. Even the most happy couple could easily be split up within a matter of moments.

Then, there are the forces we cannot control; the forces that cause the death and destruction we can only watch powerlessly.

From the processes that brought us life on this planet, to the processes that brought you the clothes you are wearing, millions of tiny things have built up. So, if one, just one of those things were different, would the end product be the same?

Be it a comfort or a cause of hopelessness, we can’t escape the possibility. We can only try our best at being human and see what becomes of our lives.

No Dolly… but a little grey cat

Today, write about a loss. The twist: make this the first post in a three-post series.

Once I felt I was unpacked, and a pathway to my bed had been made through all my junk, I stumbled across a small cardboard box. It had been pushed into a corner and forgotten. Tiredness had begun to creep up on me, in gradual yawns and aches. The day had been long and filled with change. I only noticed as I pulled the curtains shut that the sun had set, had gone down hours ago.

Peeling back the brown tape, I felt a wave of confusion sweep over me; though it was mixed with the feeling of receiving a gift, as I had no remembrance of the contents of the peculiar box. There, at the top was the little toy cat, with its grey and white fur and tiny pink nose. Guiltily, I plucked her out of the box and stroked the soft fur. How could I forget you? 

My best friend had bought her for me years ago. I remembered her smile as sunny as her golden hair and her contagious laugh. Almost instantly, I was transported back to her garden and we were six again. Giggling on her swing set, bare feet tickled by the dry grass. She told me as if I didn’t already know-as if she hadn’t told me a thousand times before-that she wanted to be a vet. And I told her that unfortunately I’d given up my dream of becoming a pop star. Then we smiled for the photo that I’d keep for years and years.

I thought as I looked at the dark glass eyes shining at me. I had never given this poor little cat a name. I shall call you Megan, and I’ll never forget you again. 

Was that really four years ago?

Today, tell us about the home you lived in when you were twelve. For your twist, pay attention to — and vary — your sentence lengths

Branches and leaves, spiders and ants.I’d found a little haven, tucked behind the shed. A faded plastic ledge offered a small, but welcoming seat to be concealed by the thick tangles of bush.

Past the shed and it’s belly of books-which seemed to always be over fed- was the tiny garden. A circle of grass and pebbles and a neat little stack of potted herbs. Only just enough space for three cartwheels. Maybe a couple of handstands.

The sloped roof with my bedroom window jutting out mirrored the rest of the street. Inside, my cabin bed only just managed to fit in my minute room, with a little space on the floor for me to lie and contemplate life and existence. One of my favourite twelve year old pastimes.

My bedroom used to belong to a baby, with thick wooden shelves, designed for nursery rhyme books, and little wardrobe handles to match the walls, which had been painted over in lilac at my request.

My next favourite place was the loft. Though horribly cold, it was the only place where I could get lost for hours with my dollhouse. No, I didn’t ‘play’. I decorated, I planned, I organised, until I would have been the top interior designer of the doll house world.

The long, laminated floors of the living room, although unknown to my twelve year old self, would be the space for hours of blanket gliding at Christmas time. And the front garden home to a trampoline, which would eventually be eaten away by ice and rust. Years of laughing in the dining room at my sister’s face covered in spaghetti. The wall of photos smiling at me in black and white would accumulate more and more of my smiles.

In the small village, a bus journey from the world of school; a walk from my best friend’s house and a an even shorter walk to the shop. And in the shop was over-priced chocolate. Chocolate!

Feminism

The word feminism is scary to some people. It gives some people instant images of angry women demanding power over men. The key is that feminism is not about power or dominance; it is about establishing equality in all ways. That’s it.

Yes, I think I am a feminist. I am in the way that many people are, but don’t realize or understand. People want equality, feminism is about reaching equality, hence they are feminists. But for some reason, it can’t be that simple.

The reason for this post is that it frustrates me to see feminism have so many negative connotations, when oppressed women have worked over so many years to push us as close to equality as we are today. Obviously, there are still plenty of issues that need addressing, but when you think about the role of women less than fifty years ago and compare it to today, so much has improved and changed. I’m thankful for what these women have done for our generation and I want others to see that they should also be grateful for what they have. And in respect of those women, I believe women of today have a duty; and that duty is to help in this push for equality.

Change and Mistakes

Among the people you’ve known for a long time, who is the person who’s changed the most over the years? Was the change for the better?

The people I have known for the longest are my family. Most of the friends I have now are only recent, as I have moved houses and schools several times throughout my childhood. 

I have watched my little sister grow in her appearance and as a person for most of my life. So, I would probably have to say that to me she has changed the most, but not necessarily in comparison to the rest of my family. I seem to have noticed her changes more because I don’t just see her everyday, but I feel the instinctive need to protect her-whether she notices or not. Watching the puppy fat develop into the beginnings of curves; noticing the way her vocabulary has shifted from using “spongebob squarepants” in every other sentence to “whatever” and seeing the remnants of her mostly short lived hobbies in the form of photos and ornaments.  But the way she has changed is the way everyone changes. We grow up. We move on from things. And we try new things. 

In a way,the changes involved growing up during adolescence are very similar to the way adults change, because adults still grow, they never stop learning. Mistakes cause people to change in order to avoid the mistake happening again, and making mistakes is human so people will continue to change throughout their life. Ultimately, what I’m saying is that everyone changes so much and in ways that are implicit to some and explicit to others, so it difficult to compare the amount of change people go through. Meaning, it is even harder to tell whether the changes are for better or worse.