I must say that even though I don’t like attempting to put a “category” on the types of friends that I have, there is definitely a set of unique characteristics that distinguish the people who I refer to as “friends” from other people. For instance, one feature that characterizes my friends is that we have similar interests. This can be noticed in the types of work we do in order to make a living. It can likewise be found in our motivations to accomplish those types of work. In this respect, how I “define” a friend differs from how I used to characterize friends when I was growing up, because back then much of it depended on my proximity and basic interaction with others. Now, distance matters less than our set of interests. Another feature that characterizes my friends is that we refrain from being disrespectful toward others. This includes being tolerant of others even though they may look or act a different way. Thankfully, I was this way even when I was growing up, and I would like to remain this same way. Another feature that identifies my friends is that we strive to learn more about the people and world around us. This process makes our situations even more fascinating and worldviews more discerning. In retrospect, I’ve learned much just interacting with my friends as a whole.
Every now and then there can be a little friendly competition, or some signs of a competitiveness building among our close friends. This can be considered beneficial in some instances, but in others it can be downright damaging. We certainly have some effect on the outcome of these situations. It’s usually important that we don’t take too personally some aspects of just minor competitions. For instance, we must have some degree of self-esteem. If that starts to dwindle away, the door is opened to a higher chance of vulnerability. Of course, this all really depends on what the competitive nature is actually all about. Minor games or contests should not be seen as a big deal in the long run. If the friend is actually beginning to take advantage of us, that’s a huge warning sign we need to either communicate frankly about the issue or begin backing away from the “friendship”.
Another way we can handle a little competitiveness is by figuratively or explicitly cheering each other on. This is especially true when it involves sports or some friendly games. If we show our support for the other person/people involved, that tends to invite their own support and encouragement. On the other hand, there are always going to be those people who cheat, take out their frustration on others, or otherwise try to bring those they’re competing against down. If that’s the case, the reality is sometimes these people are not ever going to change. Depending on the friendship, we can communicate the issue with them, but sometimes it’s best to pull away from a relationship that can become devastating.
When I was in my school-age years, I was enamored with the idea of a “best friend”. After all, this would be the person my age who I could always confide in, go to parties with, laugh with, and just hang out with in general. This would be the person who I could trust year after year, experience after experience. TV shows constantly fed into me the notion that young people were always supposed to have this kind of person in their lives. Thus, most of the time I ended up romanticizing the notion of a best friend, that one person who, more than anyone else, I could give the “crown” of friendship. As I got older, I realized such a notion just isn’t completely realistic. I have treasured every moment spent with my friends, through elementary school, middle school, high school, and beyond. It just seems like we all have to move on at times. People move. People get married. People become parents. Our lives are changing all the time. This isn’t to say I’ve forgotten the special times we shared becoming older. I will always consider some people to be my friends even though situations have changed. The memories are always there for me, re-growing and re-animating themselves in a beautiful way.