As a child, there was a plaque on my father’s den wall that I would read everyday. It read, “A friend is someone who knows all about, and loves you anyway.” I did not understand what it meant. I though it was a cynical quote against friendship, being my father was the sarcastic type. As an adult, I have to admit secret apologies to my dad, because now I understand the concept and meaning, and hold it to be true in my heart of what friendship is about. Being an evolving emotion, friendship enters and flees life, faster than the speed of light. You will never know when you might meet a true friend, and cannot fathom the day that you will part company with one. In the third grade, while playing jump rope with classmates, we engaged in a huge (by a 3rd grader’s opinion) argument, over some unknown aspect of the game. Everyone chose sides and split camps. The repercussions lasted so long in each of our memories; we continued our grudge into the following school years.
Eventually, some people moved away, others stayed, some even forgot about the feud. Only the loyal could not let the honor of the pack be diminished. Loyalty is one of the first elements of friendship that we learn as a child. No matter the circumstance, as children, we lived and died, for the name of our neighborhood block, school, and friends. There was nothing more honorable than the chance to “take one for the team.” We associated loyalty as the sign of ultimate friendship, undying in our young hearts, until we are forced to move away, or attend different schools. As we grow, we understand the price of loyalty to a friend. The act was so innocent that we did not understand why we were being treated this way. You run the risk of being an outcast, shunned by former friends and ridiculed by classmates.
Over the years, we begin to deal with the issues of being popular and going with the crowd, and end up forgetting the quality in friendship of being loyal to each other. I played basketball, in junior high school; I wasn’t much of an athlete, but I loved the game. I was put on a team, with some very experience players. One of whom, I did not get along with. She was loud and rambunctious, everything I despised in a person. I guess being her opposite; I must have repulsed her as well. We practiced and played many games, learning each others moves and techniques, and came to understand each others different contribution to the team. Respect is another quality of friendship. As we grow, we understand that the value of friendships mature. We are no longer envious of each other, or jealous.
We use each other’s success as a tool to achieve our dreams. When you can appreciate what makes a person different, there is a natural attraction to the unknown. Realizing the fact that you cannot change a person into what you want them to be, will save you time and effort in friendships and relationships. Respect is often tried when a friend is making a huge mistake of something you have already experienced. We try to warn, coax, and plead them to change their minds, and the friendship is tested. The friend might become angry, and may not understand our motives. Though friends may not listen or do what we want them to do, we have to respect their decisions. For we all have to live our own life, and experience our own downfalls. As a part of growing, we often engage in practices we regret. Once I played the game of “Truth or Dare” with classmates, and was forced to commit an act with another classmate, that we both did not want to do.
We were shy about it, and never so much as spoke to each other again after that incident. Years went by, and we continued to go to school together. We were finally able to look at each other and talk about what happened. We were honest and laughed about it, until we cried. We had no shame after we were truthful with each other. Honesty, whether right or wrong, is the ultimate backbone of friendship. As the quote says, a true friend should know all about you. Being honest with your friends will bring respect and loyalty from them. The truer you are with you feelings, the freer you will be. Opening up your heart helps to heal emotional wounds and reminds friends of your appreciation for them. Often times, we forget to remind our friends of how special they are to us and letting them know that you do trust them with your problems as well as you triumphs. As adults we learn that opening up to our trusted friends is natural, not “corny” and “un-cool” as in our younger days. People don’t talk much about the love friends have for one another. When people describe friends, they often use the word like.
“Like” isn’t strong enough to describe the bond shared between friends. In a true friend, you never get tired of their company, and you can always be yourself. You can confide and depend on them in ways we never knew we could with others. What we must realize is the fact that during our adolescent years, our friends were forced, through school and other activities. As an adult, we make our own choices, and befriend those that we deem worthwhile. We also learn that the number of these friends drops dramatically, in some cases to two or three people. That fact does not mean a person is unfriendly, it is just a reality that there are only so many people who will actually be there for you.
When I say there, I mean emotionally, mentally, financially, etc. A true friend can understand why you need a little help this month on bills, or why you don’t want to hang out. Friends can see right through you, like looking through fiberglass. They know just how to approach you, when they are concerned, and take into account your pride and shamefulness. They know how to stroke your ego, and build you up; and break you down and make you humble again. The jump rope queen, the jock, and the shy guy all became my absolute true friends.
I did not know it then; but who knows these things? Now as adults, we look back on our past, and wonder why we stuck together. Individually, we have been through good times and bad, arguments and vacations. We have spent months not speaking to each other, and nights where we cannot get off the phone. Like peas in a pod, we stuck together. We have seen each other grow, into people we never thought we would see. Our relationships continue to grow and change over time, but that is expected. There does not seem to be anything else we could do to each other that would tear us apart.