“Are you my friend?”
This question is often asked among us youths, and many times we respond with a resounding, “Yes!!! Of course!! How could you even ask such a question?!!” The funny thing is, we have never truly spent time contemplating what friendship really means, much less the actual responsibility of being a true friend.
Friendship is not a relationship to be undervalued; it requires love, total support, understanding and complete commitment, even in the face of great social pressure, whether from your parents, or your other friends. The one problem with maintaining a friendship? Compromises must always be made.
Friendships, like any other relationship, involve respecting each other’s values, forgiving every wrong, and in some cases, forgetting those wrongs. Not only this, but friendship is the relationship which should be able to stand any test of time, and encourage us to improve ourselves. This is why our parents always advise us to choose our friends and companions carefully. The friends we have today can easily become our greatest enemies, or our closest non-blood families.
Now one of the hardest questions to deal with in friendship, is trust. Often, as youths, our friends will come to us willing to pour out their heart’s troubles. However, they are unsure of whether they can trust us enough to not tell our parents, their parents, and everybody at school; or to not log in to Facebook as soon as they leave, to plaster the information on our wall, as top news feed for our three hundred plus (300+) friends to see. This may seem like an exaggeration, but let’s be blatantly honest: I’ll tell my friends, and they’ll tell their friends, and soon the stories spread–faster than a circulation of Kaieteur News showing the most gruesome murder spree photos.
Now in cases such as these, it must be agreed that the friendship code of secrecy has been painfully broken, but how about a situation like this? Your friend has just confessed to you that she’s having unprotected sex with a guy, who is not only older than her, but also has other girlfriends, and drinks. To compound the situation, she thinks she’s pregnant. Where do you go from there? Do you tell her mom who you fear will throw her out of the house? Do you tell your parents who will most likely say that it’s not your problem, and they hope you aren’t doing the same? Do you confess to a trusted adult friend? Or do you discuss among yourselves, and advise that she aborts the innocent child to hide her mistakes, and continue the dangerous relationship? These are all very difficult questions that even I have still not found the true answer to, after all, it’s easier to speak about something when you’re not in it. The right thing to do would be to confess in a parent or trusted adult, even though it means breaking the secrecy code, but from an adolescent point of view, I would be very likely to choose not to tell any parents, and to deal with the matter among ourselves. That, of course, would be extremely stupid, because the end results while they could be positive, could also have very negative emotional effects on all the people involved, or they can lead to some fatal incident.
The thing about friendship, as I mentioned before, is that compromise, trust, and respecting each other’s values are all very crucial aspects to hold on to. So, how do these points help with the situations that I’ve mentioned before? They don’t. It’s up to the friends in the relationship to understand that if they love each other as they claim, they will only desire the things that are good for each other’s well-being. This means that if it’s necessary to involve an adult, whether your friend wants you to or not, you need to do so. As a friend, you can’t always depend on the set guidelines of friendship codes to make decisions for you, because they never apply to every situation. For myself, I won’t deny that I have often considered the option of “snitching” where my friends are concerned for their benefit, but the situation usually resolves itself positively without any of my close circle of friends having to lift a finger. That’s where I would say that God gets obviously involved. Why do I need to get “religious” now you ask? It’s simple for me. I was raised a Christian and I was taught that praying to God should be my first and last resort. It’s a principle that I remind my friends of often, although I won’t say that I’m a perfect Christian, and it seems to have been working well for us so far. There have been many incidents, and near-scandalous experiences that could have ended embarrassingly, or fatally, but they didn’t. Some of you will chalk that up to fate/destiny. Call it what you want to, but let’s be real. God actually makes the best kind of friend to have. He always has our best interests at heart, because He never gets jealous of us getting the girl, or guy that we wanted, never complains that we aren’t calling as often as we should, and continues to give His constant support. Not only this, but we never have to fear that He’ll be on Facebook or Yahoo posting all our secrets on His wall for the entire world to see. My point isn’t that we shouldn’t have human best-friends, or that we cannot trust our human best-friends, my point is that we are less likely to be hurt by someone who has seen and felt all the pain of the world and understands everything. Basically, He gives the perfect demonstration of friendship, a pattern which we are constantly trying to follow, down to the ability to sacrifice our most prized possession.
Leaving religion behind, I must say that my point is, a true friend should be able to desire only the best things for you, even if it means that you get what they want. Even if it hurts, your true friend should be willing to do it as long as it’s reasonable. True friendship requires a degree of maturity that most teens and youths don’t have, even adults don’t always attain all the requirements. Just learn to cherish and respect your friends and your friendships.
While my friends and I aren’t perfect, I can say that each day we continually aim to achieve and maintain those important levels of trust; compromise where needed; and that level where we attempt to understand each others’ mood swings, moments of craziness, and respect each others’ decisions.
The ultimate test of love is being able to be a true friend. Why do I say this? Friendships develop over time, and unlike being born into a family, there are no blood ties to bond our friends to us. As such, anyone capable of sticking around when we are in our worst, deepest, dark, depressing pits; being the witch of the century; the bully of the year; or floating on cloud nine (9) as the common teenage term says; we need to hold on to them tenaciously and offer only our best, and all of our love and support.
So just remember, true friendship is very hard to find, even harder to keep, and absolutely painful to let go of once found. So don’t make the mistake of messing it up with childish insecurities or false accusations.
By: Kadeen Waldron.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011.