Through all my ups and downs, my friends have been there. Sure, those friends have changed, evaporated only to appear again in a way only fate would have it, or have faded like Yik Yak’s popularity. All this to say, that I think I am finally starting to understand the kind of friends I want in my life. Not only that but more importantly, I have finally realized the kind of friends I need in my life.
Like most great things in existence, it has taken time to learn this, that’s for sure. It took years of being in tumultuous and toxic friendships while simultaneously being in healthy and sustainable friendships for me to realize what friendship actually means, feels like, is, and what it is not.
While an unhealthy friendship has the ability to help you grow, learn, and become the person you want to be it can be argued that it can do the opposite. We always say “what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger” but is that always true? Death can be metaphorical. People die every day yet walk amongst us more alive than yesterday’s memories. These people can be revived, much like hope, but that is a grueling process that could be avoided if they were to spend more time with people that bring out the best in them, support them, value them and understand them. People are murdered mentally just as often as they are physically, if not more so. The most twisted thing is that the people murdered mentally are often murdered by those they relied on, trusted, cared for, and wanted the approval of.
When you are friends with the wrong people, it can kill you. A taxing friendship can lower your confidence, your success, your standards, your wellbeing, your self-worth, and your happiness. Nobody has to be tethered to a faulty friendship. A friendship, just like any other relationship, should not be something you settle on. Multiple research studies indicate that your friendships have the ability to alter your personality. In other words, making and maintaining a friendship with someone can change you for the better or for the worse. It is you who decides which. Take it from someone who has been friends with various friend groups all her life, you don’t want the latter. To avoid that from happening, let me let you in on are the types of friends you need in your life and the reasons behind why you do.
This friend can be painted as the villain but is far from it. Honesty can hurt a person but it can’t end a person. Having someone that will tell you how it is even if you don’t want to hear it is a blessing in disguise. What they tell you might hurt your ego at times but if you ask something and nobody tells you the truth then those aren’t your friends, those are fans. Besides, do you really want someone who is going to sugarcoat everything? Sugar in moderation is fine but consume it all the time and you got yourself a bad case of diabetes.
This is the friend that is always somehow… chill? It’s not even because they’ve befriended Mary Jane either. Their the type of friend that’s easy-going, relatable, and content doing simple pleasures in life from watching a movie marathon to cruising around listening to new music to going to a house party. If in an argument they keep their cool but stand their ground and say the situation for what it is. Everybody likes them because there is every reason to and no reason not to. Sure, you might not ask them to join your book club but that’s only because they’ve got too many stories of their own to share.
Some people say this friend is the loud one or the party-animal of the group which makes sense. However, I am talking about the type of friend that is more than that. More than just your partner in crime though they too are highly appreciated. This is the kind of friend that’s extraverted, spontaneous, a lover, and a liver of life. There the first to take the mic on karaoke night with no cares and no excuses simply because they wanted to. This friend is confident which will make you more confident. Everyone needs this sort of friend in their life because they will push you to do the things that scare you the most. While others might submissively nod to you saying “nevermind” after you discuss with them your wish to apply to your dream job (despite you having 0 qualifications for it) this friend will be the one that tells you to apply to that job because what’s the worse that could happen? This person will bring you out of your shell and you’ll be better, smarter, and more experienced to handle life’s curveballs in the end because after all, you are already friends with a curveball in human form.
Loyalty and those that are such is something to cherish. Loyalty does not know a gray area. One is either loyal or they aren’t. They are your ride or dies. You can go to this person about any subject or any event and know that what you say to them will be held in confidence. This person won’t spew your conversations to others if ever in a dispute nor will they hold your words against you. They will hold true to their promise to you that what you each discuss stays between you both. Loyal friends are beautiful blessings worth bowing to. They are the people that won’t stab you in the back but will find the weapon that was going to be used to do the act.
Though more reserved, shy, or introverted this friend can be way undersold as much as they are undervalued. That’s society’s mistake, not their own. The quiet friend is not weak nor boring like some assume. They just might have nothing to say. They aren’t bothered with the constant pressure to entertain people with meaningless words just to fill gaps of silence. Having a friendship with someone that would rather clap in the audience as you perform in the spotlight is something to be grateful for. This person won’t try to use you to build their social status nor will they interrupt you in conversation. They won’t try to cause drama for entertainment. For them, life is entertaining enough. They are the type of friend that is happy to listen and observe. This friend holds a powerful quietude that is respected by their peers because, unlike most people, when they speak it’s not to remind people they are there it’s because they actually have something to add to the conversation. They speak with purpose and for that people listen. Heed my words when I say, it is the observant one that notices we were given two ears, two eyes, and one mouth, it is the wise one that realizes this is so for a reason but it is the profound one that behaves and responds bearing this in mind.
Otherwise known as the “mom” or “dad” of the group. This person is more mature than you and probably seems to have everything more together than you. They understood that being responsible was cool before you did which only makes them that much cooler. They are the type of friend that charged her/his friend during the pregame so you all could use Google maps to get to the destination that one friend said they went to “that one time”. Soon you find you all are lost, all phones dead but one, and there she/he is, the map your inner Dora so desperately desires. They bring you and your creative, shameless, and “come on, you know you want to” friends down to earth when yall are soaring to the moon in a DIY spaceship with no spacesuits insight which, need I remind you, the responsible friend would never have let you leave without.
This friend is hardworking. They prioritize succeeding and accomplishing what they set out to accomplish. This friend inspires you to be more proactive and do what you say you will do because they do it every day. If they want something they make it happen. This friendship can provide you with daily inspiration instead of daily self-doubt. This person is going places in life because of their effort, grind, and hard work. They are also the friend that is responsible for successfully putting together your surprise party but everyone already knew that.
This friend puts things in perspective when you are having a mental breakdown about something that you will forget about in 3 months. This is the kind of friend that will say “do you like it? when you complain about how your sister told you she didn’t like your new sofa. You will say “of course, I like it but -” and then they hit you with the epiphany bomb “then who cares?” and they are right- who cares? They are shameless with their actions which can provide you with the most entertainment. These friends have painted the art of not caring about the trivial things in life so beautifully that you find yourself staring in awe as they brush over the minor inconveniences that you would have required a new canvas because of. They understand that getting comfortable being uncomfortable is a skill that every enlightened person has mastered. They calm you down with their relaxed demeanor and remind you that things, people’s opinions of you, and embarrassing moments really aren’t that serious.
This friend will answer “and why does that bother you?” when you tell them about how your sister told you that she doesn’t like your new sofa. They are the person you go to when you need a free therapy session. This friend is good at actively listening and reflectively responding to you. They never judge you and are the best advice-givers even if their life is falling apart at the seams. They provide you with encouragement to talk through your emotions and thoughts. Empathetic and open-minded, this person challenges you to not see things as you want to see them but for what they are. They honor you coming to them and reassure you that it is okay and understandable to feel what you are feeling. They applaud vulnerability for it takes the strongest of those to express.
This friend might be a little out there but people gravitate towards them because of it. They surprise you with their creativity in all realms of life. They aren’t afraid of sharing a different point of view nor thinking outside the box. They are innovative with solutions, ideas, and are good at introducing you to new things. They teach you that “weird” or “eccentric” is better than “normal” and remind you just how boring “normal” can be.
Surrounding yourself with friends that inspire you to be the best version of yourself will give you the foundation needed to reach your full potential. I’m not saying that who you’re friends with can instantly make you succeed in life but with good friends, it will be hard not to. Good friends will teach you, inspire you, motivate, and influence you in all sorts of ways.
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