Friendships for life
Friends –is fun, the word itself brings memories, sweet and not so sweet but a relationship that is, very inevitable part of our lives. Especially in our growing up years with family and school, college and career, friends become an essential part of our lives. As the world celebrates, FRIENDSHIP day we explore the FRIEND STATUS in our lives!
“A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you.” ― Elbert Hubbard
Friendship is generally used for a very wide canopy of relationship that moves from just an acquaintance to being an intimate soul mate. A romantic relationship that makes it a special friend, a boyfriend or Girlfriend, or it is just a classmate who was ‘kind of’ friend, or it can be a gully boy who grew with me and is special friend but now we have not met each other for years, but still he remains special!!
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing, and right doing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about.” ― Rumi
Friends is synonymous to comfort for people across age group .Its critical in developing our identity as it is a close relationship with person of our own gender or another gender , who helps me to understand how I am different from others and unique. In social development of human being friend enables us to feel we are important for someone, we belong and we are accepted. So the sense of security in Maslow hierarchy that in early childhood is fulfilled by parents, in teen years is provided by Friends and as we grow into an adult this relationship provides a support system to be valued.
Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It's not something you learn in school. But if you haven't learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven't learned anything.” ― Muhammad Ali
While empowering youth and conducting life skills for age group 11 to 23 years in colleges and school I have done social research and explored how people relate and value this relationship. Some common expressions shared by people for defining what a friend is are as follows:-
• Fun to be with
• Trust- keeps my secrets safe
• One who understands me more than myself
• Influence in my life
• Support forever
• With whom I can be myself
• My best childhood treasure of memories is my friend
Commonly friendship is defined as –“Friendship is a relationship of mutual affection between people. Friendship is a stronger than just an association. Friendship has been studied in academic fields such as communication, sociology, social psychology, anthropology, and philosophy. Various academic theories of friendship have been proposed, including social exchange theory, equity theory, relational dialectics, and attachment styles.
Although there are many forms of friendship, which may also differ subjectively, few characteristics are present in almost all such bonds.
Such characteristics include affection, kindness, love, virtue, sympathy, empathy, honesty, altruism, loyalty, generosity, forgiveness, mutual understanding and compassion, enjoyment of each other's company, trust, and the ability to be oneself, express one's feelings to others, and make mistakes without fear of judgment from the friend.
Friendship is an essential aspect of relationship building skills. As human beings are social animals, friends are those people whom we choose, we meet by life situations and as we develop our identity we understand this relation as a bridge between biological relation to a relation of choice not of compulsion but of choice and we learn to maintain it, a necessary part of socialisation. Friendship can develop and be very intimate, can be a very strong emotional bond or at times accelerate to next level of relationship of being a life partner. Since it’s a relation of emotions it has strong impact, good as well as bad. Breaking of trust by a friend has lifelong scars and much later in life also people have behaviour governed by this special relationship that shaped their thoughts and belief systems.
Friends as much are associated with fun, on other side are also part of regrets and mistakes, hence choosing a friend is a skill, and maintaining a friend as life situations change is a testimony of your EQ. Lot of researches have shown mental health is good for people who can maintain relationship with friends in life. The lack of friendship has been found to play a role in increasing risk of suicidal ideation among female adolescents, including having more friends who were not themselves friends with one another. Having few or no friends is a major indicator in the diagnosis of a range of disorders. Higher friendship quality directly contributes to self-esteem, self-confidence, and social development. A World Happiness Database study found that people with close friendships are happier, although the absolute number of friends did not increase happiness.
Other studies have suggested that children who have friendships of a high quality may be protected against the development of certain disorders, such as anxiety and depression. Conversely, having few friends is associated with dropping out of school, as well as aggression, and adult crime. Peer rejection is also associated with lower later aspiration in the workforce, and participation in social activities, while higher levels of friendship was associated with higher adult self-esteem.
DIGITAL friend – virtual friends are the new trend, so in digital world we have possibilities to connect more, share more without even physically meeting. It has also provided an avenue for friendship with people whom we have never met, hence provides new challenges. Fake ids, hacking, cyber bullying, cyber stalking all have entered the digital social arena causing a drastic change in the comforting friendship we have always depended on. We need to sensitize how to be emotionally safe in this cyber world
When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.” ― Henri Nouwen
Friends for life, they continue to be integral to our existence.