“I think if I’ve learned anything about friendship, it’s to hang in, stay connected, fight for them, and let them fight for you. Don’t walk away, don’t be distracted, don’t be too busy or tired, don’t take them for granted. Friends are part of the glue that holds life and faith together. Powerful stuff.” – Jon Katz
From a very young age we all learn to build friendships. We find other individuals that have similar interests to us, those who are involved in the same activities and those in which we simply bond.
Over the years we find that a majority of these friendships fade. Sometimes it’s due to distance or being in different stages of life. Other times we can’t figure out exactly what happened. Eventually we learn to move on and build new friendships in our new lives.
Looking back on my adolescence, I realize I wasn’t the best friend that I could’ve been. I was involved in a multitude of activities, and I put more effort into those than some of my friendships. That’s honestly one of my biggest regrets, but I guess hindsight really is 20/20.
While I’ll definitely take blame for some of my friendships falling apart in my teen years, I must say that those demises were not entirely my fault. As I drifted away from some of my closest friends, I watched some of them willingly let me go…and boy did that hurt.
When I started college I built up a wall. After being hurt so many times I thought no one could be trusted. I would build “surface” relationships, just close enough to do things but not close enough that someone could know the real me. It was a tough balancing act that I mastered quickly.
It never really hit me that I had such few genuine friendships until I moved to a new city for the first time. I was so scared and anxious, but the handful of true friends that I had didn’t live there. I felt like I had no one to turn to.
Once I got settled into my new life, I set out on a mission to take a deep look into myself. I wanted to figure out how to break down this wall I’d built up over the last 10 years. I decided I was going to work hard at being a better person, a better friend, and eventually build genuine, meaningful relationships.
For a few months I laid low, keeping to myself and doing some soul searching. After a year passed, I decided it was finally time. I set out to build a small amount of real relationships, and I put 100% into my mission.
Unfortunately, I’ve learned quickly that building real friendships in my 20’s has been damn near impossible. I can count on a single hand how many of my true friendships have lasted more than a few weeks (since I started this journey).
One of the biggest things I’ve realized is that people rarely want to put time and effort into building a friendship. They’ll hit you up to see if you want to go to a big party, but they seldom want to take time to know the real you.
After working so hard on myself over the past few years, it’s really disheartening that my generation thinks friendships are merely the people you go out with or tag on Facebook. If only people could realize that true friendship is so much more.
Granted, I will admit that I’m not the easiest person to be friends with. My anxiety causes ups and downs in my life that most people don’t understand. I have periods of time when I just need to be alone and others when I just need someone to ask if I’m okay.
So earlier this week I decided to make a list of the 5 qualities I now look for in friendships. You can call me picky, but I really feel these qualities are pretty basic. Unfortunately, they’re nearly impossible to find.
The #1 quality I look for in a friend is loyalty. I want to know that if I ever need you, you’ll be there with no questions asked. I expect my friends to defend me and have my back no matter what.
Effort is so incredibly important in a friendship. I’ve met so many wonderful people in my new city, but almost no one wants to put in any effort. I feel like I’m constantly asking people to do things which is great, but sometimes it’s nice to know your presence is wanted too.
Just like any relationship, trust is key. If someone can’t trust you they can’t be friends with you, simple as that. I’ve realized over time that trust is built, not automatically given/received. Some are willing to prove their allegiance, the struggle is finding others to do the same.
4.) Common Interests
This one is kind of a given. Obviously having similar interests with your friends is a plus. Common interests give you a platform to start a friendship and are such a great way to continually build those friendships.
Lastly, character is crucial not only in friendships but life in general. If someone has traits or characteristics that you simply can’t get past, take that seriously. Our character, as humans, is our story. Finding those with similar character helps us feel understood and accepted.
While I realize no one is perfect, I’m still getting over the disappointment I’ve faced with building new relationships in my 20’s. I constantly try to remind myself that I too was once a subpar friend, and I still have hope in my journey.
To the few true friends I have left, I’d like to say “thank you.” Thank you for not abandoning me, thank you for accepting me just as I am. I no longer take friendships lightly. Friends aren’t just people to call when you’re bored, they’re the ones you can rely on when you’re lost and unsure.
If you struggle with building new friendships, don’t lose hope. It may seem useless now, but through heartache comes growth. God will place the perfect people in your life even if you don’t believe it now. If you have even one good friend, tell them how much they mean to you. People like that are truly hard to come by.