Around the holidays we hear all about spending time with loved ones, being grateful and showing them how much we care. A lot of our thoughts will be about our family and friends. But lately social media has changed our perception of friendship, how we view it, how we behave towards our friends, even how we use the word "friend."
It makes me wonder, what does being a good friend really mean?
To me, the qualities of a good friend include honesty, love, warmth, loyalty and simply someone I can just be me with and have fun. Good friends are non-judgemental; they give you unconditional love. They put you ahead of themselves. And to BE a good friend, of course we should reciprocate these qualities. Jane Austen wrote in Northanger Abbey, "There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends." I agree wholeheartedly!
"A true friend is someone who lets you have total freedom to be yourself -- and especially to feel. Or, not feel. Whatever you happen to be feeling at the moment is fine with them. That's what real love amounts to -- letting a person be what he really is." Jim Morrison
I also agree with this article that says a commitment to your happiness is a sign of a good friend. I value friendships based on people that are there for me through good times AND bad. True friends are the ones who can sense when you're feeling down; they're the ones who reach out and say they were thinking of you, just because. I value friends who, although I may not see them for a long period of time, they are still the closest people to me because our connection surpasses time. It's like there is an invisible chord connecting our spirit.
"It's the friends you can call up at 4 a.m. that matter." Marlene Dietrich
It can be hard to make time in our busy schedules for our friends; we're all burning the candle at both ends it seems! Sometimes if all you can manage is a little gesture of friendship, then that's better than nothing. Texting helps, even if it's just to say "hi." Instagram is a great way to quickly take stock of what your friends are up to. I LOVE commenting on my friends' pics. I know social media isn't a replacement for one-on-one time, but unfortunately, with everyone having such busy lives these days, this is what happens. I am rarely in one city for long and it's tough for me to always see my friends. But, like I mentioned above, true friends don't judge and are your friends no matter what. I have a girlfriend that has been my best friend for over 20 years even though we haven't seen each other in quite a while. But we never forget each other's birthdays, and I know if I called her at 4 a.m. because I needed her, she would be over immediately. And vice versa.
"Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born." Anaïs Nin
You can make AMAZING friendships at any point in life...the key is to be open to it. I love using social media as a way of staying connected to my friends. It also gives you the opportunity to engage and interact with people you might not normally have a chance to meet. I have had the privilege to meet some amazing people through social media! I should also mention that not all of your friendships need to have begun 20 years ago; some of the greatest friends in my life are people I met recently, like Carrie Kirkman, President of The Jones Group. We bonded instantly after a lively debate on CBC's The Current about women's "erotic capital" and the power of attraction, that you can listen to here.
"Everyone wants to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down." Oprah Winfrey
Unfortunately, I think the term "friend" can be overused these days. We all know in our hearts which friends would fight for us and which ones we'd fight for. And often they are few and far between, but that's okay; true friendship is about quality not quantity. This doesn't mean the rest don't actually like you! Far from it. Friendship is like a spectrum; there's different kinds of friends and different shades of friendly love. All of them matter but there is only so much "true" love to go around.
"It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages." Friedrich Nietzsche
Being a good friend is also about being a good partner. I think friendship should be the founding root of a good romantic relationship. This quote from Nietzsche makes perfect sense...who wouldn't want a marriage to someone who treats you like a dear friend? Someone kind, caring and dedicated to your happiness is the perfect partner in friendship, or romance. Friendship is at the core of a successful love affair. To marry your best friend, or to find a partner who you trust, someone who is loyal, who loves you unconditionally and makes you want to be the best you can be, that is what we all strive for. That, and he/she needs to be able to kiss you passionately!
"People will walk in and walk out of your life, but the one whose footstep made a long lasting impression is the one you should never allow to walk out." Michael Bassey Johnson
It's important to understand that, sometimes, not all of our friendships will stand the test of time. Maybe you've grown apart, maybe there's distance between you or maybe you no longer have as much in common. Maybe a friendship just left your life for no reason in particular. I do believe people come in and out of our worlds because we needed to learn something from them and they learned from us. Just because the friendship didn't last doesn't make their footprint on your life any less impactful.
"A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you." Elbert Hubbard
True and real friends are hard to come by -- so you need to treat them well. You are born into a family that you didn't have any say in, and sometimes we are close and sometimes we aren't. But our friendships are the family we "choose." It is all about connection and honouring your commitment to one another. This quote sums up what a good friend means to me:
"When it hurts to look back, and you're afraid to look ahead, you can look beside you and your best friend will be there." (Unknown)
Happy Holidays my Huffington Post friends!
How do you define a "friend"? Has your definition changed because of social media? How so? Leave a message below or tweet me at @NatashaNKPR. I'd love to hear your stories!
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