A Second Self
“It is not so much our friends’ help that helps us, as the confidence of their help.” (Epicurus)
That which is the female friendship may be the most delicate of all relationships on this planet. The many interwoven intricacies form a bond that, when healthy, cannot be broken. I do not have a birth sister, yet from what I know and what I have seen amongst others, the female friendship has the potential to be more resilient than blood.
Male friendships appear to come so easy in comparison, though no less strong. There seems to be less weight placed in the “feelings” involved in determining the solidity of friendship and more actual “doing.” (Something to be learned from them, I wager.) But new female friendships can be like having lunch with your mother-in-law or going on a first date. Will they like me? Am I being too transparent? Do we have enough in common? How do I compare to their other friends? Is this worth the investment?
But they are worth it, aren’t they? The good ones are worth a walk across Middle Earth and all the way into Mordor. Or as Jane Austen said, “There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.” In my youthful, yet varied, experience I have detected a few things in regards to friendship that I always try to be mindful of:
Ways to cultivate a strong friendship: 1. Respect. You may think love, but I would argue that today’s society has a very twisted (and unbiblical) view of what love means, or we associate it with a feeling only. Respect, however, is more universal in application. 2. Consistency. Be my friend at whatever level you are willing or able to be, and maintain it. The anxiety of being friends with someone who is all-in or all-out breads confusion and distrust. 3. Commonalities. Finding aspects that make your friendship unique and bonding over those common interests. Then build on them. 4. Acceptance. Don’t force a relationship to be more or less than it is, just enjoy each moment at face value. 5. Appreciation. Be grateful for the time and energy someone is willing to invest, and resist the temptation of feeling entitled to more. Chances are if you desire a closer friendship with someone, you could take more responsibility for the ways to cultivate that closeness.
“Sometimes you put walls up not to keep people out, but to see who cares enough to break them down.” (Socrates)
Ways that hinder a lasting friendship: 1. Giving the impression that the other person is just an item on your “to-do” list. 2. Being made to feel as if your making time for them is an inconvenient sacrifice. 3. Talking negatively about your friend, to yourself or others. If something is bothering you, respect them enough to tell them about it. 4. Having ulterior motives, despite whether they are selfish or selfless, it is almost always evident that something else is going on, which leads to confusion and distrust. 5. Concealing your true self. Be real – the good, the bad, and the ugly. True friends will be strengthened by the good and be determined to help you with the bad and the ugly.
A closing thought… Tell the friends in your life how much you value them, even if you think they already know, it may be just the thing they need to hear. To my darling sisters-by-choice, I love you more than I love myself.
“A friend is, as it were, a second self.” (Cicero)