Note: What you are about to read is a repost of a the first post on my original blog. With my now inhabiting this space with my thought beginning, I couldn’t in good conscious leave this behind. One thing you should understand is, this is reflective of the frame of mind I was in when I sat down to write it. I’m glad to say I am no longer in that state, but further reflection of that era of my life would be beneficial. So Take all I say here with a giant grain of salt.
Friends For Weather Most Fowl
Be careful of fair-weather friends. This I am sure, is something everyone of us must have been told at least once by our parents. But the thing is, we aren’t taught how not be fair-weather friends and neither are we taught how to spot them. The world today is such that you can’t be sure of what people are like, not until you’ve been through the crucible together and made it out on the other side, still on the same side. Considering that the year is ending, I’ve been reflecting on certain things, things that my personal life has made apparent to me.
2016, in spite of the countless memes and posts making it out to be a horrible year, for me personally, has been full of a lot of firsts. This year has brought me some incredible highs and some very painful lows. So much has transpired over the course of this one year that I must reflect. I absolutely must. For the sake of this piece, I will only be reflecting on one thing. Friendship.
Sometimes this word feels just so hollow to me. Friends. Who are friends? People you grew up with. people you went to school with, people you shared a laugh with? Over the course of our lives, we meet people and sometimes the people we meet become more than just a casual ‘Hi, how are you’. Sometimes the become integral to your lives. You feel like you’ve found a kindred spirit. Someone who finally understands you, or someone with whom you can be as close as possible to the person you truly are.
However, before this year, I’ve never had so many mixed feelings about friendship. Never have I experienced highs and lows so often and close together regarding the same concept. Never have I felt both completely alone and surrounded by love and support. I feel there is a pessimist living somewhere deep within me that makes me linger on the lows more often, leading me to refer to friendship feeling hollow. It is however not completely unfounded. Especially when you consider some of the things I’ve been through and seen this year.
Somebody That I Used To Know
Without going into detail because honestly, the details are personal. I choose to share from my life that I feel comfortable with and the details are such that it wouldn’t be healthy to delve any deeper into them lest a cycle of depression and wallowing self-pity is created. What bothers me is how fickle the world has become and how indifferent. And beyond that, how incapable of maintaining something we humans have become. It’s not like it’s always one person’s fault that people are no longer talking like they used to. No a lot of times, situations are to blame.
Situations Can Be So….
One such situation for me I think is my own personal growth. I didn’t grow much as a person before I was 16. No. My early teenage years were a haphazard mess of a young boy trying and failing to find his footing. I think sometime after I turned 11, maybe sooner, I started building up a shell. Unknowingly of course. I guess for the child that I was, it was important for me to first learn to appreciate my own company before I turned to others. That, however was a lesson hard learned. The shell I had built up, to nurture myself took me much longer to break through than I think anyone would have liked. By the time I emerged, though not as the person I am today but as someone headed in that direction, I was out of school (O levels) and into college (A Levels).
As a result, from my school days, I truly only have enough good friends to count on one hand. The rest of my so-called childhood friends, many of which I spent 14 years in the same classroom with, they seem more like acquaintances. It’s not their fault though. The person they knew and indeed still know was someone who hadn’t done much growing, so he wasn’t confident, determined or quite literally comfortable in his own skin. This now, even when they involve me in their activities, it’s as if I’m there but looking into their happy lives via a periscope or a window.
I don’t think it’s from lack of trying. Indeed, I tried and I did but the situation and timing were such that my efforts were futile. Situation though, you can’t blame everything on situation. Not when people possess the capacity to create situations as well. I think moving forward from school to college, to university and beyond, my laments with friendship are all due to created and manipulated situations.
Surely if the situation was being created by someone and you knew it, you would have something right? I mean that’s what I thought. So I did. This year, more than anything I’ve discovered that I have one very glaring character flaw, I’m extremely honest and blunt. I have no capacity to change or sugar-coat. If you’re right, you’re right, if you’re wrong, you’re wrong. Not everyone thinks this is a flaw, granted but a lot of people seem to have this issue with me.
Maybe I’m Too Blunt..
So does my honesty get me in trouble, maybe. Not being so. Not being honest, biting my words, that’s not something I was brought up to do. If you speak then speak the truth, or don’t speak at all. Maybe I don’t speak at all. Maybe that would help me retain friends, right? The simple fact is that as I get older, the more people surprise me with their capacity to conceal and to lie. The more they surprise me with how petty and two-faced they can be. The more I realise that until they needed me, we’re good. It seems I have a very early use by date.
More than anything, friendship feels hollow because I feel spent. I fight to keep my friendships alive and healthy but it seems I just can’t. Maybe I get too personal too fast. Too involved. Too me. I don’t know what it is and why and that’s frustrating.
Where there is anger and frustration in me regarding the bonds I’ve forged which have sunk, there is immense joy when I look at those that are flourishing. Again the number of such bonds isn’t great but maybe that’s what makes them so great.
Have you ever experienced a friendship that naturalised so much that nothing between you changes? That you keep coming back to each other and all is good. That you can talk freely and be the version of you that you love the most? I have that.
Have you had friends you can be completely and utterly weird around and they are the same? Have you had someone who’d admit their demons to you and there’s no judgment? I have that.
Friends in Thick And Thin
Have you ever been presented with the situation where the outlook is so bleak, you worry about how you are expected to get through this? After that, life surprises you in the form of friends. Friends who take the bleakest off situations and introduce you to so much joy, belonging and comfort that suddenly, everything is alright. Everything will be okay. You will be okay. I have that too. What’s truly great is that I have that every year, in good years and in years like this, with so many lows. During this reflection, I wondered what was I doing wrong. What was I doing that drove people away? The answer was simple, I was being myself.
I then had another thought. Of all the friendships that were blossoming, in them, was I doing anything different than what i was doing in those that failed? No. not entirely. I am the same person to everyone. If we are friends, I will be there for you when you need me, depend on you when I need someone and fight for you when I must. I will also be completely honest with you, whether that means telling you are wrong when you are, admitting my own mistakes, or anything. If I am the same person, why do some relationships flourish and others do not?
The answer lies in the concept of fair and foul weather friends. As a I said in the beginning of this journey, we are made weary of fair-weather friends but we aren’t taught to spot them. Unfortunately, spotting them is a lesson no amount of lecturing from concerned parents can teach. It’s one of those things you just have to experience. Even then you may not be able to effectively find them. You could give them everything and it may not work, even then. You could be so sure that, this person now won’t hurt you and they still might. In that moment, when you know what you did was right, when you were being only yourself and that to the best version of yourself, I want you to know that you can not blame yourself, like I can not blame myself.
I Don’t Blame Myself
That doesn’t mean blame the other person either though. Placing blame means you are still holding on. What you may now be holding on to may be so beyond repair that even time itself isn’t optimistic that it will mend. Time, however, has always been on your side. It knows that you will get through this, you may not see how but it knows you will. It also knows, that there is some benefit, a lesson, a silver lining to the storm cloud.
You won’t see it in that moment, but when you turn to the friends that have stuck by you, through the crucible, through the storm, you’ll find that silver lining. Those people, who work just as hard as you do, you emerge through the flames with you, those the friends for weather most foul, the people you have been looking for. They are the people you should hold on to, them and no one else.
Anyone can sympathise with the sufferings of a friend; it requires a very fine nature to sympathise with a friend’s success. – Oscar Wilde