I am not a very good friend.
I am a great friend.
But not everyone can be my friend……
I expect a lot from my friends but in return I give a lot. I give my life.
But I wasn’t always a good friend.
I had several bad traits such as showing up for them only if it was convenient to me, talking behind their backs if they pissed me off, and generally me not being as supportive as I should have been overall.
I remember a time in school when I was in a science lesson with the rest of the class.
Let’s just say science wasn’t my best subject. In fact it was hardly anybody’s best subject. Well apart from those on the ‘top table’, that is. The top table, were those students who consistently got top grades in science and were sat at the front because the teacher didn’t want them to be influenced by people like myself.
I had two friends who sat in that group. That particular lesson, we had just received the marks from our mock exam and the majority of the class had failed bar one of my friends on the top table.
Instead of me to be happy for her, I made her feel bad for excelling in this test.
In hindsight, that was such a horrible thing for me to do.
Not even sure why I did it. Maybe I wanted to impress the rest of the class, or maybe I was just jealous. I don’t know. I can’t quite remember. I was young. She deserved better from me. After all she was my friend. Why would I do that to her?
Even now that I am writing about it, I feel ashamed of myself.
The funny thing is, at the time, she just brushed it off, so I didn’t think anything of it.
A few years later, she mentions the situation quite casually to me and told me how it made her feel, and it dug deep, really deep. It was awful. But I was glad she told me. I was even more glad that she still continued to be my friend.
I had to learn to be a better friend.
I had to learn to be the kind of friend I would have wanted, by being the friend that people did not want.
I learned by being mistreated and by being let down by people I called friends.
In the past, I had always thought friends would be unconditional cheerleaders, and that you would always feel better after being with a friend.
But in my 20s, I am realising that my most valuable friends are the ones who stand for my soul.
When a friend stands for your soul, they hold you accountable to your highest potential and expect you to do the same for them.
When a friend stands for your soul, they hold and comfort you when you feel wronged, but they don’t rehash your sob story, because doing so only keeps you stuck. As soon as you’ve grieved and lashed out and you feel strong enough, a friend who stands for your soul reminds you that it’s time to end your pity party and be in the solution.
When a friend stands for your soul, they are willing to say what others won’t, the things people might be whispering behind your back because they don’t love you enough to say it to your face. But they never intend to be critical, and most importantly they are never, ever mean.
Surprisingly however, these friendships don’t last forever.
When a friend stands for your soul, they might have to leave the relationship, because they have been patient as they watch you choose your small self over your larger self- again and again. As a friend, that’s a painful thing to stand by and watch.
Standing for the soul of a friend isn’t easy. It requires uncomfortable conversations. It would be easier to just say yes to your friend’s ego. But when a friend unconditionally loves you and stands for your soul, it takes courage. It can be disruptive.
I’m so grateful for the friendships I have right this second. Without them, I’m afraid I would be dead.
Every day I try to build those up and improve them. To water them and nourish them and love them. It’s a matter of life and death.
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