Are you a good friend?
I have been thinking about friendship, what it means to be a good friend and whether I am, in fact, a good friend.
When I looked up the definition in the Oxford Dictionary it confirmed that friend is a noun and “A person with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically one exclusive of sexual or family relations.”
Hmmmm. This seems more about what it is not, rather than what it is.
I turned to the Urban Dictionary….’people who are aware of how stupid you are and still manage to be seen in public with you’
‘…people who make you laugh until you pee your pants’
‘…people who cry when special items are lost’
‘…people who buy you a cup of tea when you are skint’
Yes, yes, yes. These speak to me much more.
When I think about those special friendships, both past and present, those defining memorable moments, there are 3 qualities that jump out.
1. They don’t always agree with you
I am smiling typing this, recalling the moments where my sincere, heart felt words were met with ‘What? Are you mad? What the hell did you do that for?’
My tribe question me when they don’t get what I am saying or think I am heading down a crazy path. Knowing that they will do this from a place of love is one of the best gifts a friend can give. It crystallises my desire or helps me realise when it’s not quite right.
Either way, I am grateful and this “not agreeing with me lark” must not be confused with the curse of the dream killers.
We’ve all met them.
You excitedly tell your ‘friend’ that you are going to fulfil your lifelong ambition to travel the world. You’ve worked out when, you have the money, it’s going to be amazing and their first response is ‘you’ll never get a job when you get back’
Boom! Dream killed.
It’s rarely about you, almost always about them and staying small in packs is their favourite place to be.
2. They aren’t competitive
I notice, in myself, when I am comparing myself to others. It rarely feels good.
Admitting that after sitting on the sofa for the best part of 3 weeks eating pizza, chocolate and vodka, and with glee reporting that you managed 30 minutes on your indoor bike should never be met with ‘Well, I cycled the Pyrenes last week and didn’t train at all.’
Extreme example, but you get my drift.
Please don’t. Stop now.
There is a subtle, yet massive, difference between being competitive and being inspiring. A certain dear friend of mine quite casually mentioned that she’d written a play. I was in awe. Wow! I wondered, maybe I could write that blog I always thought about and didn’t start. (Judith, this is your fault.)
It reminds me of a Tim Ferriss quote. ‘You are the average of the 5 people you most associate with’
You are the average of the 5 people you most associate with.
Simple and thought provoking isn’t it?
They shape who you are. They can raise, or reduce, your game.
Bring on the inspirational straight talking friends. Let’s share the love.
I saved the 3rd one to the end as it has the most charge for me and is, so often handled badly.
3. Someone I can truly share my shameful and embarrassing moments with
When someone has the courage, the guts, to use mouth words to describe and recall the thing that makes them screw up their eyes in discomfort and shame, a good friend doesn’t say ‘I am sure it wasn’t that bad’ or ‘It’s fine. You are overreacting’.
Good friends feel your pain and say ‘Oh shit! You did not!’
‘Noooooo! Tell me it didn’t!’
‘Oh man, I’ve so been there. Ouch. That sucks’.
They hear, and they witness, and they share the discomfort. And then they make you a cup of tea. Or get prosecco.
When we downplay those moments, we isolate and loosen the connection. We miss the opportunity to bond.
When we open ourselves up in our vulnerability and are heard, we create a sense of shared understanding and unlock the way to deeper awareness and togetherness. It’s a beautiful thing.
There are many more amazing qualities in our friendships and connections, however, these 3 stand out for me.
I try and do these for my friends as much as I can and ultimately, I can’t help thinking about that quote.
Essentially, we are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with. Remembering, of course, that one of those people is you…..