Think of a topic or issue about which you’ve switched your opinion. Why the change?
When I was younger and still believed in the innocence and pure goodness of people (yes, there was a time I was not the sarcastic writer that I am today, although I do think the term ‘critical thinker’ is more appropriate), my mother once told me that true friends are not those who know how to mourn with your or share your sadness, but those who know how to be genuinely happy for and with you. It didn’t make much sense at that time, because we often assume, and so did I, that friends are the ones you call out in times of need, the ones that let you shed your tears on their shoulders. I thought I was being a good friend, comforting them during their break-ups AND the gazillion times they fought with their boyfriends in between, telling them words of encouragement when their job search was not going right, and so on.
However, with time, I have realized that my mom (unfortunately, as always) had been right. It is much harder to be happy for your friend because you see, as people, we are not that genuinely good, or at least, I find it hard to be so (maybe I’m just not a good person… hmm…). And ‘jealousy’ or ‘envy’ are very strong and alas, very present, incentives in our everyday lives that forbid us from being actually happy for someone.
The hardest thing that is involved when comforting a friend is to find the right words at the right time to try make him/her feel a bit better. That is the extent of your emotional involvement. Sure, you’re not happy to see your friend go through a rough break-up or deal with family problems, but there is a tiny teeny bit inside you that tells you ‘At least it ain’t me’. And that will only prompt you to be an even better friend, to assuage the guilt of even thinking that.
But when your dearest friend is having a wonderful time with the greatest guy on earth, or finds an awesome job you think could have been perfect for you too, or is pursuing his/her dream and lets you know every detail about it when you’re stuck in this ‘I don’t know what to do with my life’ stage, which, frankly, seems like it has been going on forever; in all honesty, it is hard to be nothing but all smiles.
Fortunately, I have friends who are always excited at something good that happened to me, and truly show their excitement, that I, all cheesiness aside, have indeed felt blessed to have them beside me. I only hope I can be as good a friend to them as they are to me.
Contrary to the popular belief (and one I held on to dearly at some point in the distant past) that friendship is like magic, something that happens like an unintended spark, I do think that friendship has its stages, and like everything else that is good and worthy, it comes with effort, sacrifice and patience.
The first stage does involve a little bit of magic. It’s an instantaneous moment, often by chance, when you meet someone you know you will get along. You may have worlds of differences, but when it comes to core values and sentiments, there is an irrefutable bond that links you as ‘good friends’. As you find out more about each other, you are impressed about his/her knowledge in arts, sense of humor, attention to detail, and well, basically, everything else. Just when you thought ‘perfect friend’ was just an illusion, you find out this rare species, rare but not nonexistent, is indeed out there, and guess what, you have found one for yours to keep.
Then comes a bit of a downside period where the magic slowly wears off. Maybe it’s because you spend a great amount of time with him/her, or maybe you just care that much and you want to keep believing your friend is perfect, although you know you yourself are not. You discover the tiny things that start bothering you, and unfortunately, they may actually be the very same things you were first impressed about. He/she talks too much, he/she is too emotional, and so forth. It’s a critical stage, which can very well push you two to very different paths, with only the fading memory of your once happy and seemingly unbreakable bond.
But soon comes the final stage, when you finally accept that nobody is perfect and you realize that the time you spend being frustrated at your friend’s trivial faults could be better spent being thankful at his/her amazing talents and qualities, which he/she willingly gives away to none other than you. And believe me, there is nothing better or rewarding than remembering your friend’s smile with a smile on your own face, or having someone to say ‘I miss you’ out of the blues, just because you feel like it, knowing he/she will answer you back ‘I miss you too. It’s about time we meet up’.
True friends should, of course, be there for you in your hardest moments. But make sure they are there in your merriest moments as well.