miércoles, 22 de abril de 2015

The concept of friendship

   Many people say that their friends are actually family as they have known them for as long as they’ve known heir parents or siblings, and have spent the same amount of time with each one. Some friends meet first in a park, when they’re babies, or because their families are acquainted. That is known to happen although it’s not the norm. Many people meet their friends later in life, when they reach the age to go into school. That place is the most common one to make first friends and to make alliances that would mark a person’s life, for good or bad.

 In my case, and like many people, I also made friends in several playgrounds and places of conglomeration. Kids have that innate ability to communicate with others, without all the contamination that we have as adults. They don’t see beyond a face and they make friends for life in a matter of seconds. Even if they only see each other once, for a couple of hours, they label the other kids friends. Why wouldn’t they? They understand that people who share a taste for something or a passion are friends and, actually, that’s what the base consists of.

 But as adults, we do not make friends that easily because we know a lot more about people and because we are more worried about been safe that about meeting new people. It’s not something bad. Some adults don’t have that protective sensibility and that’s when attacks happen, whatever they’re reasoning or lack of reasoning is. As adults, we don’t really make new friends. We meet people and bond but it is very unlikely that we connect as easily as we would if we were kids. Because we know people and we know what they can do.

 Nevertheless, we meet people and often share a connection. But friendship built on adulthood is much more sensible to changes and it isn’t likely it lasts very long. Why? Maybe because you’re not really evolving anymore. You are the same person day after day, year after year. Many people start being friends because they share a growth process and they need someone to share that journey with. But when you’re an adult, that journey is much more slower, less satisfying and not very thrilling to see, only to live.

 Although, the real key is to know on what you have based your friendship. Is it built on shared experiences, shared tastes, a likening for the same kind of people, a feeling of loneliness, a need to speak to someone, …? What is it that makes you someone friend? Many people think it’s because you share opinions but that isn’t always the case. It is impossible that two people agree on every single thing. Maybe on key subjects. Maybe that’s where friendship lies: in connecting in a couple of things you consider to be most important in your life. If you find someone who sees life the same way you do, on those two subjects, maybe that person would make a great friend.

I, for one, count myself in the group of people that don’t really have a lot of friends. How many friends do you think it’s “normal” to have? Some would say ten, some others twenty, some even might say only one good friend is enough. But, as most of things in life, that all depends on the person you are talking to. After all, we are not all alike and we all have different lives that make us different people. Besides, it takes a lot more than a couple of shared opinions to be someone’s friend.

 Let’s take my high school as an example. I went to a school were parents with an above average income would send their kids, so they were many connections on that level. Many people’s parents were friends so naturally their children were friends too.  Then, there were some people with average or below average income that had been able to pay for a good school for their children. Those kids were, strangely, not always on with the other. Those were the ones that felt the need to blend in so they tried to have a wider range of types of friends. In fewer words, they played it safe.

 Was there any bullying? Sure. It would be a very uncommon school if that hadn’t happened. It was always about the ones that came up as unusual: the very nerdy guy, the very nerdy girl, an effeminate kid, the new kid,… They are many types of people in a school and it’s normally very easy to put every person on a box, even if that’s not the best idea. But that is what the kids do. Girls, from a young age, know that it’s far better if they have an athlete as a boyfriend than the nerdy guy. Unless that nerdy guy happens to also be an athlete but that rarely happens.

 And men also know which girls they should date: the physically prettier ones because they need each other as prizes. If the rest of the people know that they are dating someone especially “hot”, then the other will know who is more important. Of course, we are talking about young people’s dynamics. They are many times vicious and calculating and they have learned all that from their parents and media. No one can wash hands when we see a terrible teenager in a mall or small brat in the park. It is a shared blame but blame all the same.

 I was the new guy. I was the new guy for about two or three years. They saw me as an outsider because, although it was common for new people to arrive, they preferred the ones that were outgoing and had something to bring to the table. I didn’t. So I was an outcast for many years in school until I made some friends. But we didn’t have a strong connection, like common goals or tastes. We only had one another and that was enough to be friends.

 The years went on and I made some more similar friends and realized the concepts had slowly shifted. It wasn’t like when we were fourteen. At seventeen, girls want to date the bad boys and guys want girls that have been around the block. That is the truth and the biggest truth about it all is that it’s all a lie. Must people, and this is a proven fact, have not have sex until after they leave school. So it is statistically impossible that every single person with whom I graduated, had lost their virginity. But anyway, people claimed they have had sex because that was the next big thing.

 Kissing, having sex, alcohol, drugs… You name it. I doubt that it was only happening in my school. All kids have that rush, a need for what has been forbidden for many years. And they love it or at least fake they love it because at that age what you do most is faking and lying. Whether it is to your teachers or your parents or your so-called friends, doesn’t matter. You just do because you learn lies can take you where you think you want to be.

 I didn’t really lied back then. I didn’t have anything to lie about. Alcohol was fine but I was not interested. My sex life was better that many other’s in the school, which is something that does not make me proud but I find funny. But there was no love, no childish romance. I never experiences that. I never knew how it was to feel that stupid feeling of accomplishment when you haven’t really done anything. And, obviously, I will never know.

 In college I had the best time of my life, no doubt about that. I started learning about what I loved and met people with whom I made deep connections. I understood how it is you build a real friendship, balancing those similarities and the opposing opinions. That’s when I became and adult. I did it when I realized how society works and I refused to play by the same rules because I had learned them and wasn’t going to play that game of hypocrisy and lies.

 My rule in school was to make time pass and not to attract any attention to myself. And I think I did a tremendous job at it. But in college, when I realized who I was and why I was that, I started not giving a shit about what people said or thought. I think many saw me naked, not on campus of course. I attracted attention to myself a couple of times and did not care. I felt free and all because I was happy. I had never felt so fulfilled in my life.

 Nowadays, that freedom is blurry. I have no job, no prospects; the future is bleak at best. But I keep the friendships built on solid ground and all that I learned while growing up. The friends that I made on sandy ground are not there anymore. To be honest, I don’t know if they are really friends at all. I like them and would never say anything bad at them but it’s the truth when I say we needed each other back then but now what made us be together doesn’t exist anymore. We have no reason to be together as no real lasting connections were ever made.

 Friends, in any case, are important. We need that connection with others because it’s the only way we built ourselves up and realize our potential and how we can make this world one worth living in.

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