What friends are for

It has been months, I know, since I last wrote. Not that I didn’t think about writing, but I was going through a difficult time in the part of my life that relates to being a student (so no one died, nothing serious happened), but I didn’t really feel motivated to write anything. Lately, however, I found again my motivation and now things are going a lot better. Now that I got out of my not-very-important-student-related problems, the clarity of my mind has come back and I finally noticed that a couple my friends are actually going through very rough times. Therefore I started to reflect on what being a friend means and what I can do to help them.

I am in that awkward moment of transformation between leaving being a girl and becoming a young woman: some of my friends are at my same stage and therefore we more or less go through the same problems, but I also have older friends (ten years or more older than me) and their problems are really really the big ones. So what can I do?

A very wise friend of mine once was reflecting on the meaning of “giving your life for your friends”. His reflection was striking: to give your life for a friend doesn’t just mean to die for him (which, by the way, we all hope it won’t happen), it means a lot more and it is way more difficult: “to make him space, to give him air and light, so that he won’t be suffocated by our cares and neither abandoned through our silences. To grow up. Let us give ourselves life by making grow each other up”. This is a very rough translation from Italian and his original post is this one .

His words made me reflect on my own behavior as a friend:

Am I there for my friends? Yes, but I know that I could also do better than this.

Do I care without suffocating my friends? I am not the suffocating kind of person (I was back in my teens, but I grew out of it) and I am aware of the fact that I can be there for my friends, I can help them getting out of shitty situation (my attitude is usually “we are in a shitty situation, so let’s get out of here”), I can help them reflecting and I can put in front of them things that they would prefer not to see, but in the end I know I can’t force them: after the talking part, it’s up to them to choose which actions they will (or won’t) pursue and what decisions they will (or won’t) take; in the end I know that it is their life and that I can only be there to support them. 

Do I give them space or I only talk about myself? If I am really excited about something, I don’t listen and only talk, so I could do better also here.

Do I grow up with my friends? I think the answer to this question is yes because I noticed that they make me grow up a lot (especially my older friends), but with regard the other way around I don’t really know. Maybe when I reflect together with my friends I also contribute to their growth, but only they know. Maybe, as I know that people don’t stay always the same, I am aware of the fact that my friends won’t remain the same people that I first met. The question would then change in: will I still be there? Only time will tell.

Episode 13 of season 14 of the tv show NCIS (one of my favorites) is probably one of the best episodes of the whole serie and gives a lot of good advices with regard to how to approach life and also has one for friendship:

Jimmy Palmer: You’re damn right here we go. Open doors for strangers. You let a car go ahead of you in traffic. Who cares? Just smile more. And if you want good friends, be a good friend. They will find you, I promise.

My reflections then go also a bit further, but for the moment I think this is more than enough. I am certain I will try to improve my behavior towards my friends in the direction I reflected upon.

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