This is a controversial topic but one I thought I would entertain for a little while and pen here for everyone to read. I know there are many memes about “friends being for a season or reason” etc and I totally understand that. I also know that sometimes I have been guilty of calling people friends when actually they haven’t been friends in the true sense of the word.
Social media also plays a role in making relationships exist in our heads when they might actually not really exist in reality. I know I am guilty of having people on my Facebook page who I then get to know really well in terms of what they have been up to, whether they are married, have babies, where they go on holidays etc only to actually realise that the last time I actually communicated with said person was in primary school late last century. I have physically met some people on my Facebook and actually not been game to actually say hello to them because I don’t think they would know me and sometimes this can be because someone is a friends’ friend but because you see them so much, you feel like you already “know them” when in reality you two are strangers.
Experts say that you tend to have less than 10 or so true friends in a lifetime and most of the time these friendships are built in the early years of childhood and high-school. This is because this is a time you develop a sense of identity and try and define who you are as well as the people you want to associate with. There is another peak in friendship development when you go to college and identify with people who sync with your personality and then you might then have another friend from work as life goes on. So really by the time you are in your mid-thirties, you have already picked your friends and they are to last a lifetime.
The tricky thing with having to leave the country to attend college and subsequently living far from the mother ship is that the original childhood friendships face a big challenge with trying to remain alive especially if you have been away for too long. Sure, you can keep the emails and skype going but with time things suffer to some extent and then, unfortunately, you can find that you have friends but not really the friendships you had anticipated to have when you were growing up.  You don’t really know your “friends”, or their family and don’t have those deep-rooted ties that you had equated with deep friendship. Also, when you then go to visit the mother land, you come to the realisation that people have grown and moved on with their lives and sometimes there isn’t really space in their life for you as you had thought they had always been.
Most of the time you make do with the situation and move on as well but there are always tough circumstances which bring this issue to the forefront especially when you live overseas without much family support. Simple examples of these include
  • Who to write as next of kin on your children’s childcare or school card who would be happy to come and collect them should you not be able to
  • You find yourself in some financial strife and need someone, not only to lend you money but to understand and to listen to your dilemma as well as offer some unjudgemental advice
  • You have a new baby and you are not coping whether emotionally or otherwise and you need someone to genuinely open up to and ask for help
  • You have a death in the family and want someone who knows the family to lend a hand only to realise none of your “friends” truly know your family enough to lend a hand. (I personally think introductions of who your friends are to your family shouldn’t ideally happen at a funeral)
  • You have a great business idea and you need someone who will be objective and realistic to give you honest feedback which might be “dude, that business idea sucks and maybe you could change it like …”
I guess what I really have been thinking about is trying to be the friend that I would want to have for myself and also trying to really know my friends, their families and hoping that I enrich their lives as I hope they do mine.

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