Yayyy December is here! My favorite month for a number of reasons. First & foremost, its my birth month! Second, its my sisters birth month as well (and we were born on the same day- 5 years apart- how miraculous right?). Also, Its my parent's wedding anniversary month. So its generally a month designed for family fun and for my annual reflection. Always a happy month. Love it. I'm so excited for this month. Its looking awesome from where I'm standing ;-)
Soooo...today I thought to share with you all my guidelines for friendship; which I dubbed NwaVic's "7 Mechanics of True Friendship" aka the characteristics of a true friend.
I don't use to term "friend" very lightly and I'm not the kind to boast of many friends. I'd rather have few friends whom I love and trust dearly than a battalion whom I'm not sure of. Often, people fail to distinguish between a friend and an associate, a friend and a colleague, or even a friend and a family friend. Not me. For me, the line is clear. Crystal infact. A person is not your friend because they are your friend on facebook. A person is not your personal friend because they are a friend of the family. You can spend 8 hrs a day with a person and they are not still not your friend.
Ok lets get down to the nitty griddy. Here are the 7 basic characteristics of a true friend. Everything else is "jara" aka extra. Its left up to you to decide whether or not its good or bad jara.
1. Loyalty- Ahhh this is soo rare. A true friend is one who "sends you die" (insert pidgin accent). Ok let me explain in English. A true friend is your friend is your friend. <yes I wrote that three times to make a point. Loyalty means that your friend will not tolerate anyone back-mouthing you. S/he has created a space for you in his/her heart and life and is not afraid to let the world know this regardless of who's watching. A loyal friend will defend you no matter what the odds are. This is the friend you always know has your back. Errmm if you have a "friend" you worry when you leave him or her alone with your significant other, you better reconsider how you define friendship. If you have a "friend" who you're not sure will defend you if he or she is outnumbered in a gossip forum, errmm reconsider o.
I have friends in overalls whose friendship I would not swap for the favor of the kings of the world. ~Thomas A. Edison
I expand on loyalty because it is the most important characteristic in my books. A true friendship reflects the loyalty elements of marriage. It means in sickness and in health, in breakups and in makeups, and in dining and in soaking garri.....through it all, your friend is by your side. That's loyalty. Be careful to decipher between people who are in love with your profile and those who actually love you for you. As my bestfriend would say, some people will "FamZ" with you because of what you are and not who are. Spot the difference.
2. Consistency- My mother always says "no matter what you do in life, be consistent". I take that advice to heart. A true friend is not two-faced and is not wishy-washy. A true friend stands the test of time- no matter how many years apart you spend, when you see again, its like you never left. I have a dear friend like that. At some point, we had not talked for years but when we talked for the first time, it was like we were never apart. Even now, when we go for sometime without talking (no thanks to our busy lives), its like we never missed a beat. With a true friend, out of sight is never out of mind. As a matter of fact, my best friend and I live worlds apart but I feel closer to her than those I spend most days with. This is not to say that your friend should deliberately ignore your calls & avoid you, but when your friend is genuinely busy, as second nature, you should be understanding to her plight. In that light, true friends will always make time for each other. Consistency sometimes requires some kind of mutual effort. One of my friends who is a practicing lawyer and has a young son is constantly busy but in order to maintain our friendship, we make dates to spend time together (go to dinner, the movies, each other's homes, etc).
The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart.
3. Shared interests and values- Ooooo I tell you, there is nothing as precious as having a friend who is on the same page as you. I do not mean as per social class or status. I mean, deeply-held values and interests. For a friendship to be mutually true, you must be on the same mental plane, car, level, etc. Trust me, Its impossible to cultivate a true mutual friendship on soil of different textures. It only breeds jealousy, judgment, resentment and everything else hazardous to any friendship. To be true friends, you have to be on the same page. Shikena.
4. Honesty, Transparency and Communication- You should never wonder what your friend thinks about you or about anything for that matter. Oh my! How I can't stand people who hold things in. Believe it or not, one day, they will blow up on you and you'd wonder where the aggression came from. Spoken by a true witness!
A friend is a person with whom I may be sincere. Before him I may think aloud. I am arrived at last in the presence of a man so real and equal, that I may drop even those undermost garments of dissimulation, courtesy, and second thought, which men never put off, and may deal with him with the simplicity and wholeness with which one chemical atom meets another. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
There are no secrets in true friendships and no hidden treasures either. Your friend is the only one who'll tell you when you're doing something wrong despite your unwillingness to hear it. What's paramount to a true friend is that you don't fall astray and not how you feel about him or her. Honesty all the way.
Cherish the friend who tells you a harsh truth, wanting ten times more to tell you a loving lie. ~Robert Brault
In that light, friendship should be easy love at all times. I'm not a big fan of forced friendships. Trying to stay in touch and in "friendship" shouldn't feel like pulling your hair. Once I sense I'm trying too hard to be your "friend", I shut that door. Just because we can't be friends, doesn't mean we can't be "cool". No hard feelings but true friendship should be easy flowing and effortlessly passionate. Seriously.
The friend is the man who knows all about you, and still likes you. ~Elbert Hubbard, The Notebook, 1927
5. Genuine Mutual Admiration- I'm an avid believer that for two people to exist in a healthy relationship of any sort, there must be something(s) about the other that each person admires. My theory here is this- admiration breeds likeness, and likeness breeds friendship. You can't like someone if you don't admire something about them. One thing I've noticed is that often, we admire in others, that which we seek to improve in ourselves. That stems from the whole theory of complimenting each other. I admire at least one thing in all my friends. In my dear friend B I admire her steadfast love for Christ. In my dear friend C, I admire her unwavering loyalty-she has my back at allll times. In my dear friend O, I admire her maturity and her ability to remain calm in stressful situations. In my dear friend S, I admire the simple purity of her heart.
In my friend, I find a second self. ~Isabel Norton
6. Encouragement & Unwavering Support- I put these two together because they intertwine when it comes to friendship. A true friend should always encourage you to be better. No matter what mistakes you make in life, your true friend will never judge you; instead the focus will be on how to help you climb out of whatever rut you're in. They should never make you feel insecure or inferior. They should add value to your life and not take away. Its important to realize that a person cannot encourage you as a friend if they are jealous of you. I specifically keep friends who are confident enough in themselves to not want to compete with me. It should never be about who looks better, who's smarter or who gets more play. A true friend is comfortable in her own spotlight and never feels the need to outshine you. If its your day, s/he doesn't mind moving over to let you enjoy it, like you would on theirs. A true friend should be able to tell you how fly you look without feeling like she's jeopardizing herself in anyway. If you sense jealousy in a "friend", runnnn. Its only breeding ground for negativity. Check out my post on negative people. Bottom line, stay away from haters.
A loyal friend laughs at your jokes when they're not so good, and sympathizes with your problems when they're not so bad. ~Arnold H. Glasgow
A friend accepts us as we are yet helps us to be what we should. ~Author Unknown
A true friend is always there for you, no matter what, s/he is always rooting for you. Its the same person you call both when you are excited about your first date and when you're crying over your last. Its the person who can accompany you both to your doctor's appointments and your TV guest appearance. Its the friend who smiles and cries with you. Your emotion is theirs and your happiness is their concern. It was remembering those who were rooting for me that got me through my hardest moments in life.
A true friend never gets in your way unless you happen to be going down. ~Arnold Glasow
7. Mutual giving & Sacrifice- Last but not least, a true friend does not mind being inconvenienced for your benefit. When I think of sacrifice that comes with true friendship, I think of a love-give-in of the little things. On that note, if you constantly feel like your "friend" is taking and never giving, not a good sign. True friendship is all about give and take; and I don't mean this in monetary terms. Giving includes but is not limited to love, good thoughts, encouraging words, time, thoughtful gifts, etc. Beware of users- the "friends" who are always looking for what you can do for them and not vice versa. For them, being your "friend" serves their personal interests and never yours. Not a true friend o.
The only gift is a portion of thyself. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
There will be times where you want to do something or go somewhere that your friend does not fancy. A true friend will go with you because they know you need them. I've come across people who only do things that benefit themselves. Some call that selfishness. I just call it "not a true friend". You can spot a true friend in a person who doesn't mind sacrificing for you. They'll pick you up from the airport at 2am, they'll wait for you when you're running late and they'll go with you to see a movie, just because you want to.
Friendship isn't a big thing - it's a million little things. ~Author Unknown
So there you have it! NwaVic's 7 Mechanics of True Friendship. Please note that all the above characteristics have to be mutual to work. No one-sided friendship ever works. Don't forget the only way to get a true friend, is to be one. :-)
True friendship is very rare and if you have any, count yourself lucky and keep them close. Comment away. If there's something I missed thats important to you in your friendship, please do share. Have a great weekend :-)
This post is dedicated to all my true friends. You know yourselves. I tell you all the time but incase you've forgotten, Simply put: I love and appreciate you. :-)