I missed yesterday’s blogging prompt “What I did over my summer vacation”. If you have been following my blog, you know that my summer vacation was early this year – in May – and that I went back to Germany for three weeks to visit my family and attend the baptism of my little nephew. I wrote all about it here, here, here and here. Sorry for just linking to these posts, but there is no way I can summarize my experience here again in a few simple words.
Today’s blogging prompt is “”What was the biggest challenge that I faced in the last year and how did I overcome it”.
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My biggest challenge this past year was the realization that making new friends is hard. I am not talking about meeting new people and finding someone to have coffee with or go to the movies. I am talking about someone I can absolutely and 100% rely on (and who, of course, can absolutely rely on me). Not an acquaintance, not a buddy, a real friend.
I consider myself a very open and friendly person and I don’t have a problem connecting to new people, but I have come to realize that not everyone new that you meet will be a life-long friend. This is a tough pill to swallow, considering the fact that I approach – or used to approach – a lot of new relationships with long-term goals in mind.
I recently had a fall-out with somebody I did consider a friend. I don’t even think she knows how much she actually disappointed and hurt me.
But I kept wondering, maybe we’re not on the same page? Maybe we have different definitions of the word “friendship”? Maybe we see each other differently? Maybe I felt closer to her than she felt to me? Maybe I shared something that she didn’t want to hear about? Maybe, maybe, maybe.
But what those “maybes” tell me is that she wasn’t the friend I thought she was, and that realization was tough.
So, what is a friend, you might ask? According to the dictionary, a “friend [‘frend] [is a] person whom one knows, likes, and trusts.”
Now, that’s one bad excuse of a definition right there. It’s superficial and, frankly, totally inadequate.
I doubt that this definition even comes close to what I associate with friendship. Sure, it is true that I know, like, and trust the people that I call my friends, but there is so much more to friendship, wouldn’t you agree?
I mean for starters, those feelings have to be absolutely mutual. No friendship can be had by two people who don’t feel somewhat the same way towards each other.
But also, let’s talk about those three verbs, that are supposed to define a friend, for a minute.
What does it mean for someone to know you? Is it enough to call somebody your friend when they know what your favorite color is or what music you like to listen to? Is it enough to call somebody a friend who remembers your husband’s name and who likes the same silly tv shows that you like? Is it enough to call somebody a friend who recognizes that you dislike superficiality and that you’d take a coffee date over afterwork parties any day?
Does that mean they really know you?
What does it mean for someone to like you? Your co-workers might like you, but are they your friends? People might like a certain aspect of you, but that doesn’t mean they’re your friends either. I like a lot of people, some of them a lot, but that still does not qualify them as friends necessarily.
And what does it mean for someone to trust you? Trust you with the book that they’ve lent you? Trust you with their car or their pets? Trust you with their life?
Trust, peeps, is a very serious issue.
Obviously, the definition calls for all three of those things to come together, but if the requirements are all just met on the most superficial level, this would – by definition – still make someone my friend, even though I’d like to strongly disagree with that conclusion.
Friendship for me is a very serious matter. I don’t call anybody my friend lightly. I think many people throw around the word “friend” much too easily. For lack of a better word, a lot of people seem to call random people – people that they’ve literally just met – friends and that is just wrong.
Dont’ they know, it takes a long time to grow an old friend?
I know there can be different levels of friendship. There might be people that you share more with than with other people and therefore they’re your friends. But can you really completely open up to them about what you feel and who you are? Can you be completely yourself around them? Can you call them up in the middle of the night? I am not saying I would, but I sure know that I could.
In my opinion, real friends only prove themselves in crisis situations. You’ll never know if someone is a real friend, until (s)he’s gone through tough times with you. It doesn’t necessarily matter for how long you’ve known somebody, but in most cases it’ll probably take a long time – years! – to find out if someone is a real friend. Someone who doesn’t walk out in tough situations and who will support you no matter what.
All the positives signs might be there beforehand… you like each other and you like to spend time together, you have things in common, you agree on many issues, you can anticipate each others’ responses in certain situations, but it will still not be enough to know. Every new friendship is a risk that you take. Sometimes it’ll prove to be worthwhile, other times you’ll be disappointed.
I know that I am more than lucky to not have only one, but a handful of people in my life that I can blindly rely on and for that, I am forever grateful. I just wish one of these people would live close by.