The tag “friend” is perhaps one which has become a critical element of human existence. From our early years, we bonded with neighbors with whom we shared toys, bicycles, attended birthday parties among other things. Then we proceeded into school, church and the larger society, adding more people to our list, whilst also being added to others’ list, deleting and also being deleted.
As we came of age, our criteria for keeping/losing friends began to change – although oftentimes subconsciously, we became more aware and while there’s a large crowd of folks we smile to, wave at, or even shake hands with, we remind ourselves that there are just a few who are our “Friends.” In the process of choosing, or being chosen, we often develop our various criteria vis-à-vis boundaries requisite for varying degrees of friendship. In the midst of all these, we cannot shy away from the fact that “Friendship without a mutual trust and friendship without a mutual sacrifice is meaningless.”
I grew up learning to mouth the timeless quote “A friend in need, is a friend indeed” believing that this phrase would continue to define the essence of friendship for everyone in the larger society. What has however become evident is the increasingly deepening fault lines being etched on the edges of friendships shared by many. All around the world, news feeds are rife with tales of friend betrayals, resulting in grievous fights, acid baths, or in some cases murder. The resultant feedback from all this is people questioning the whole concept of “Friendship.”
In a recent conversation with a colleague, we had shared thoughts around the concept of friendship and how we subconsciously categorise our friends based on the needs they serve, or better said “benefits” they offer. For instance, there are friends we would readily call when our heads/minds bursts with ideas, boisterously sharing it with them, knowing fully well that in those moments of mental bonding, the ideas receive genuine workouts, determining whether or not they would see the light of day. On the other hand, there are equally friends that readily come to mind at the thought of downing bottles of liquor or swaying bodies to the sound of good music (either at a Friday night out, or Saturday Owanbe rendezvous). Without a doubt, what matters in friendship is mutual joys, and I really do not mean to undermine the role which hanging out plays in keeping friendships. My point, however, in this case is to address the critical question of what benefit we provide in our friendships/relationships.
As often as possible, it is important to profile our relationships and genuinely assess the value we bring to the table. Too many times, we complain about what our friend is not offering, either based on a declined request by said friend, or a delayed action in other cases. What we miss out, is what we’ve contributed, or helped that friend with.
Could it be that the same folk was only reacting to the stress of always being the giver, or helper… as the case may be? How about turning the tables in some cases and providing some sort of help to that same friend? It may not necessarily be in equal measure, but at least enough to communicate that you’re not just in the friendship as a recipient of value.
In addition to this, I think it’s also pertinent to assess our friends list, identifying in some clear terms, what our friends look out for us for. So, if all your friends call you for is the next turn-up event, hmmm… your penalty is rolling to throw-in o. In all of these, what should stand out clear is that the beauty of friendship lies in shared responsibility. A responsibility towards mutual joys, hustles and conquests, for really “what are friends for?”
As we progress in this week, let’s keep friends, make friends and most importantly, be a friend … with benefits.
“I made my Facebook name “Benefits,” so when you add me now it says “You’re friends with benefits.” – Anonymous
Photo Credit: © Nelson Ikheafe | Dreamstime.com