How to be a good (?) friend

It’s been 50 days since I hugged a friend

It’s been nearly 50 days since I went into lockdown. Nearly 50 days since I hugged a friend. I’ve been thinking a lot about friendships and how they’ve evolved in the last few weeks. We’ve all started to explore our relationships and friendships more and figure out how we communicate through this because as humans we are so resistant to change: in a time where everything is changing, we want to know that nothing has changed.

As we all struggled with staying home and social distancing, some of my friends and I have somehow ended up spending more time talking to and supporting each other (probably because there are no pesky managers looking over our shoulder while we WhatsApp on our laptops…). I’ve supported my friends and they have supported me. We’ve cried over losses, celebrated accomplishments, and sure as hell held on to each other. We’ve experienced friends who’ve stepped up, and friends that suddenly weren’t there. We’ve been a lot more open and forgiving because guess what, we’re in the middle of a pandemic and now isn’t the time to centre yourself in your relationships.

We’ve been a lot more open and forgiving because – guess what – we’re in the middle of a pandemic and now isn’t the time to centre yourself in your relationships.

Regardless, I’m so grateful for all my friends – those I talk to every day, and those that I check in with once every few weeks, and those that I know even when I haven’t spoken to them since I went into lockdown we will still be as close when we come out.

After all, every friendship is different and they don’t all require the same amount of Houseparty interaction. But I’ve also had to go through a friendship breakup at the start of the lockdown and that really really hurt and I’ve started looking inward within my friendships.

What is a ‘good’ friend?

The question I’ve really grappled with is “How do I be a good friend?” But it took me bumping my head a few times to realise, guess what, that’s me putting myself at the centre of that friendship again. What I should really be asking is “Is my friend getting the support they needs from me?”

A “good friend” isn’t an award you can achieve by clearing level 29 of the Friendship Chain, then moving on to claim the “best friend” badge by keeping to a 542 day streak. Some friends almost immediately become a good friend, and others just stay as best friends, whereas others over years become a best friend. So why are we be so fixated on trying to be a “good friend”? Let’s focus on being a better friend.

Being a “good friend” isn’t something that you can achieve by clearing Level 29 of the Friendship Chain, then moving on to claim the “best friend” badge by keeping to a 542 day streak.

Friendship can’t be sustained at the same level all the time, it needs to ebb and flow. It’s not just about being there for your friends when they’re having a tough time – it matters when they’re in a good place too!

If you’re in a position to be able to support your friends in this time (because YOUR mental health come first), then there are a few things that you can do when your friend shares something with you:

  • Put down what you’re doing – don’t multitask: if your friend has come to you with something that they want to share with you, good or bad, they’ve taken the time out of their day to tell you something because you are special to them.
  • Listen but truly listen to hear – Stephen Covey said “The biggest problem in communication is that we don’t listen to hear – we listen to reply.” The first time I heard this, I wrote it down in my notes app. That was in 2015 and I haven’t deleted it since.
  • Take the moment to spend it with a friend – you don’t have to give advice right away nor should you feel like you have to. Only offer it if your friend needs you to do so. Otherwise, take the moment with them and be present for your friend.

Friendships require nourishment and care

A friendship is like a plant: you have to look after it, you have to nourish it, you have to make sure it stays hydrated (water is the source of life). And on that, here’s a #science fact: the first law of thermodynamics states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed; energy can only be transferred or changed from one form to another. And on the planet of your friendship:

  • The energy needs to flow between you two, it doesn’t go anywhere else so when you receive some, give some back
  • If all one of you do is take without giving… that’s not a planet that’s a black hole and try not to get sucked in!!

Know that when you are friends with someone, friendship is a true gift. Cherish it, enjoy it, and remember to get that energy flowing! A bit of a rambly one but felt I had to put it on a page.

If you want to chat, my inbox is always open, or you can ask me on @whatwouldqueeniedo Wednesday. Sending love out to you, through the screens and I hope it brings a little bit of light to you. If you’re reading this and you’re one of my friends, know that I love you and even if we haven’t spoken, I’m thinking of you. One day we will meet again and you will get the squishiest hug.

– Q 💌

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