What is friendship? According to a basic google search, it is a noun meaning, “the emotions or conduct of friends; the state of being friends”. Some synonyms for “friendship” are: close relationship, mutual attachment, bond, tie, link, and union. Although this definitely would be considered a definition of friendship- to me it seems a little generic and superficial to explain something that can mean so much. So, that leads me to the question of, how does the average person, in layman’s terms, describe friendship?
I guess there really can’t be just one universal definition of something so important, because not everyone can or wants to get the same experience from a friendship. And, honestly, there are different levels and types of friendship; as we all know. A lot of times, we have friendships that are based on a common interest, or bond. For example, we may become friends with people who engage in activities that we do; like sports teams, the gym, or outdoor groups. Or, maybe, we have friends that we talk specifically about books, movies, and things of the like with- so on and so forth. And sometimes, we get really lucky and create friendships with people who happen to have a lot of different likes/dislikes in common with us. Or , sometimes they are so different from us that they can even us out, and teach us to look at life, and things in life, from a different perspective. Either way, it is clear that there is no specific rubric to abide by in order for the dynamic to constitute as a friendship.
To me, friendship is when you can count on someone to be there for you when you need them the most… (having interests in common is just an obvious bonus)! Now, I don’t want this to create any confusion… I don’t think your friends have to physically, or literally, be standing by your side during a time when you feel like you need them the most; you shouldn’t count someone out just because they can’t be by your side at the very minute you feel that you want them to be there. What I’m saying is, a true friend will be there in any way that is possible for them, in an attempt to help you in the only way they can; by simply being your friend.
For example, shortly after I moved from the north to Florida, I was scheduled for a surgery that would have me out of work for a period of time. Because of this medical leave, I would be on bed-rest for a week, and was to refrain from any physical activity for a few more… I was devastated to learn this. Not only would I be bored out of my mind not being able to do the things I normally do on a day-to-day basis, but I would be bored out of my mind by myself! (And trust me; you only have to watch so many LifeTime movies before you get the gist of every single daytime television-drama’s plot).
Thankfully, I was fortunate enough to have a great support system. Although I didn’t have the expectation of my friends from home flying down to Florida to come take care of me, I did have one friend who was able to make the trip and keep me company for a short period during my recovery- which meant the world to me. I was also lucky enough to have my father fly down, receive a few homemade care packages from other friends, countless phone calls, and even my new friend from the neighborhood pitched in a great deal with helping me with my dog.
These people, to me, are the epitome of what friendship is: a mutual respect and concern for another person’s well-being and happiness, regardless of whether they are related to you or not. In my opinion, each of these people demonstrated the true meaning of friendship, by just showing that they cared. I do not value my friend who flew down here any more so than I value the friends who sent me care packages or phone calls. Because, in friendship, you understand all that the other person is and understand that they have other obligations in life that they can’t always just pause to accommodate to you.
Friendship can be such a beautiful, and truly irreplaceable thing; if, and only if, you put in the time and effort it deserves with the right people.
I was also able to find an article posted by Mayo Clinic Staff titled Friendships: Enrich your life and improve your health, that discusses some of the personal and health benefits to promoting and maintaining healthy friendships. Below I’m going to list some of the key points from this article, but if you have the time, I highly recommend reading the full post!
Personal benefits of healthy friendships:
- Increase your sense of belonging and purpose
- Boost your happiness and reduce your stress
- Improve your self-confidence and self-worth
- Help you cope with traumas, such as divorce, serious illness, job loss or the death of a loved one
- Encourage you to change or avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as excessive drinking or lack of exercise
Quality counts more than quantity. While it’s good to cultivate a diverse network of friends and acquaintances, you also want to nurture a few truly close friends who will be there for you through thick and thin.
- Accept yourself
- Accept others
- Be positive
- Don’t compete
- Listen up
- Respect boundaries
Again, the Mayo Clinic Staff did an amazing job expanding on all of these points and elaborating on what they truly mean.
– Virginia Johnson
Are you struggling with maintaining healthy friendships or creating new ones in your life, or simply feel that you do not as you should? Sometimes having a partner in your journey can help. Give us a call to set up a free phone consultation at Life Skills Resource Group Orlando at 407-355-7378, and one of our Orlando Individual Counselors, Orlando Life Coaches, Orlando Teen Counselors, and Orlando Child counselors would be more than happy to help you, a family member, or a friend work on changing your life.