The idea has been fed to us since we were in elementary school, maybe even younger — the more friends you have, the cooler you are; the more people like you. And while that is all good and grand from a popularity standpoint, I feel like a lot of people have lost sight of what exactly the purpose of a friend is. Then there’s another group of people who I think never really understood what that purpose is in the first place.
Just because someone’s profile shows up when you click a tab on your Facebook, doesn’t make them a friend. Just because you have each other’s numbers, doesn’t make them a friend. And perhaps the big one — just because you were friends at one point, doesn’t make them a friend now.
I’ve never had an abundance of friends in my life; I’ve always kind of had a group of people — maybe four or five — whom I’d hang out with. I could never yell, “Call everyone!” and throw a wild party because I wasn’t that close with that many people. For all of high school, I thought there was something wrong with that.
Now out of high school (and college), I still don’t have an abundance of friends. I have a go-to group of people who I consider true friends, with dozens of, what should accurately be described as, acquaintances. I’m friendly with all of them, hence why I would choose to associate with them, but if someone asked me, “Who are your friends?” they wouldn’t come to mind.
Friendship has a life of its own. The best example I can use is that friendship is like a plant, in that it needs to be cared for regularly, with the right amount of attention. Long lapses of neglect will only result in the death of its existence. Too much attention and you will ruin it.
But, like a plant, maintaining a friendship isn’t hard. (It really isn’t.) A phone call every now and then to check in; maybe grab lunch or dinner sometime; go out and do something, either together or in a group; just make the effort to show you care.
My best friend now lives in Texas, some 1,800 miles away from me in New York. We were friends when he lived here, then grew to become good friends shortly before he left. Since then, our friendship has been stronger than it ever was.
We talk almost every day; we call each other often and have a genuine interest in each other’s lives — work, girls, family life, personal thoughts — and want to keep the friendship alive. He is honestly the hardest working person I know, right in front of myself, yet both of us still find time for each other.
If you’re lucky enough, you have someone (if not many) like that.
Then there are the people who live in your area — some of whom you’ve known for years; others whom you’ve known for many a few months — who can’t seem to make time for you. They play the, “I’m busy” card, which is nothing more than a coward-like way of them trying to rid (or at least play off) their guilt.
Surely you’ve read an article that discusses it, but nobody is “too busy.” There are waves of my life that completely consume my schedule, and I tell my friends that; and they understand. But that does not mean I ignore their existence.
So I can’t really grab lunch or dinner; so I can’t go out to the bar; so I can’t come over to just hang out. I can still text you to keep in touch. If you’re up late at night (since I work nights and they work days) and you want to chat, my phone is on. When the wave passes, we’ll do something as soon as possible. Until then, you might not see me a lot; but I’m never “too busy” for my friends, and they shouldn’t be for me, if they consider me a friend.
I’ve always said that I’d rather have three or four really close, true friends in my life — people I can tell anything to — than 20 people who I could call at the drop of a hat for a night out, but who I wouldn’t necessarily confide in.
Contrary to what the movies lead you to believe, when it comes to friends, less is more.