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

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 What are some (or one) of the things about which you usually don’t trust your own judgment, and need someone’s else’s confirmation?

As a teenager- and I think most teenage girls will agree- clothes and appearance ARE important and hiding insecurities is even more important. So, it might seem shallow and silly, but I usually need a second opinion on my clothes or my hair out of my own insecurity. The way I see it is that when someone asks, “Does this look ok?”, they are really asking, “Does this hide my awful zit?” or something along those lines. 

With my writing, I often ask for someone else’s opinion because, especially when I am writing from an honest, open perspective, I feel conscious of my choices and judgements. 

In my opinion, I think having a second opinion is usually a good thing, because it encourages the development and improvement of an idea. It is also support. We need our friends to be there and tell us when our hair looks greasy or our bums look big. We need confirmation that our own personalities are amazing because they are unique, when we forget it’s okay to be different. We need others to support us and help us grow as people. 

 

Singing and Sausage-rolling, a vital part of best friendship

Do you — or did you ever — have a Best Friend? Do you believe in the idea of one person whose friendship matters the most? Tell us a story about your BFF (or lack thereof).

I DO have a best friend. Though my experience of best friends hasn’t always been great. My first best friend moved to a different school, and when I moved school too, the most we talked was through postcards and birthday cards. Then, when I settled into my new school, my next best friend decided to move even further away-to Australia. The one after that was even worse. She turned out to be a bully. Thanks to her constantly comparing the both of us, putting me down and becoming increasingly nasty I lost confidence, which has taken years to get back. But I learned a lot from that experience, and I’m almost glad she was so nasty as it made me tougher and stronger emotionally. My current best friend took me all of those best friends to get to, but she was worth it (however cheesy that sounds). We are both pretty shy, which meant it took us a while to become close. But when we stuck with each other as people fought and went from different friendship groups, it became obvious that we would be friends for life. So, thanks to Ellie, I do believe in the idea of one person whose friendship matters the most. Because it means there is always someone to rely on for support and to tell the secrets that are too hard to tell your family or friends that don’t understand you as much. I still have a close knit group of friends, who I get along really well with. And I think that it’s important to be in a group as well, because sticking with one best friend only can isolate you from making other friendships. 

Ellie and I met in the last years of primary school and managed to stay friends until secondary school. It wasn’t until the last three years that I became really close with her. Our shared love of Taylor Swift brought us together. We went to see her Speak Now tour, which was our first concert at age thirteen. And this year we saw Taylor again, age sixteen, but at the 02 in London, which was AMAZING. 

We’re the kind of friends who don’t need anything fancy to have fun. Once, I rolled down her back garden in a blanket in an attempt to be a sausage roll.  We laugh at each other-well, Ellie laughs at me when I fall off my bike. And we cry on each others’ shoulders a lot. Which is useful when you’re a teenager and there are a lot of tears to cry. I do crazy stuff for her, most of the time without thinking. Like singing in front of too many people-bearing in mind I can’t sing, to try and get her to sing to ANYONE. (She sang to me later on, followed by tears of course). Sorry Taylor Swift, I didn’t mean to murder any of your songs. 

To anyone that doesn’t have a best friend, my advice is not to worry about getting one. Try and get into a small group of friends who you can trust, then someone you probably didn’t expect will become closer to you and turn out to be your best friend. You don’t necessarily need a best friend to be happy, but once you have a true best friend you’ll know because you won’t be able to let them go.