I come to realize the true meaning of friendship after series of unfortunate events, probably ever since I hit puberty. My circumstances including: feeling left out, being bullied, being frowned upon without even knowing what my faults were, and being sucked up into one’s negativity or jealousy. There is one memory which still lingers occasionally on me. I was on junior high school, when a friend whom I regarded as the closest, suddenly refused to talk to me without any explanation. Since it was few days before my birthday, I thought it was just a silly surprise, so I looked forward and anticipated quite excitedly. But when it was not, she left me heart-broken. Another friend told me that it was indeed her character – that if she suddenly feels like she dislikes someone,she would just leave them right away. But why? Why me? Why now? Where did the daily phone calls, dozens of hangouts, all group homework talks gone?
‘Lost in friendship’ was probably the best words represented my feelings back then. I felt wronged yet did not know how to make it right. I tried to make amends only to her rejection. The journey of searching for answers eventually drawn my energy and positivity. I was forced to reflect upon myself, thinking what I have done wrong towards her, to no avail.
Finally, right before our graduation she reached out to me and offer her hands. “I am sorry,” she said, with a big smile as if nothing happened the past 1,5 years. All those time, she never told me what was wrong, the reason why she resented me. I had mixed feelings of relief, because she ultimately talked to me, and anger, because I felt played and ridiculed on. I grabbed her hand awkwardly, as I could only hope that we would meet again someday, or maybe not.
Afterwards, I value friendship more than ever. I keep my inner circle small and try to be as loyal as possible. Even then, I still stumble upon a lot of disappointments, which makes me wonder what exactly goes wrong. Am I too permissive towards toxic friends? Or am I the one who is in fact, toxic?
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As time goes by, I ponder those questions and come into an answer. Both were probably right. I tended to be overly positive towards others, thinking that everyone is nice, and thinking that I will surely be able to please them all. In fact, that could not be more wrong. I will never be able to make everyone happy, and there will always be people who are not nice to me. Thinking too optimistic ultimately makes me believe that I am always right. Hence, I finally found out that is a first warning sign of becoming arrogant. However, since I always thought that everyone is nice, most of the time I had huge expectations of how my friends should respond to me. So, when they were not the best characters I ever wanted, all my hopes crumbled down. My self-esteem was damaged. I was not being realistic about making friends, by making my own standard of perfect friend. In those exact ways, I got entangled many times on toxic situations.
Accordingly, I learned how to make friends on better way, and how to lose some on better attitude, too. Since becoming too optimistic would not get us anywhere, it helps to cut loose ones who are not the one who will be with us on both joy and adversity. We cannot have a healthy relationship by always hoping someone will change for us, or things will improve even after a lot of exhausting, roller-coaster emotional rides of friendship with them. When talking heart-to-heart is no longer effective, decreasing interaction is the ultimate way. It might be uncomfortable at first, but we will finally find freedom from negative whirlwind, and after all, they are surely not our only friends, aren’t they? By letting go unhealthy friends, we will come to love and respect our true companions, deeper than ever. In times of friendship turmoil, it is always nice also to look back into ourselves, and evaluate whether we have become too selfish, willing to talk but not to listen, pouring too much heart out without sensing how our friend’s feelings might be.
Learning from Job and friends
The story of Job’s sufferings and accompaniment of his friends (Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar) might as well show us how friendship could go from very supportive by only being present and silent for seven days (“For they had made an appointment together to come and mourn with him, and to comfort him.” Job 2:11b, KJV) to heated arguments between each other and pointing mistakes all-out to Job. Often by being (best)friends, we think we know what is right and wrong from our friend, even know what is best for them. It does not necessarily go that way. Sometimes what we need to be, as a friend, is just to be present. Most importantly, we can learn from Job’s outlook. He was sure that God will always be with him, even though his friends insisted the opposite. Eventually, we know that our Heavenly Father, is also our Best Friend. When everyone falls apart, we still have Him. And that is for sure.