Are you aware that as you grow up, friendship is the thing that drifts away most easily? Work, vacation, relationships, family times — they’re all so important to life that it’s just hard to put friendship at a higher priority.
Have you ever been at supper at a friend’s home, you and your friends just didn’t have anything to talk about and had to force yourselves to just talk about something, like “so how have you been recently?”, or “oh the pasta is really nice…”?
This kind of awkward situation only leaves us wondering what friendship is for; but then, we also feel uncomfortable to have to declare that friendship has to be for something — how contradicting we are.
Here’s some good news for you…
Friendship does have its purpose, and having a purpose doesn’t ruin true friendship.
People come to your life for a reason. (Duh.) People do come together to become friends for some reasons though.
Alex Lickerman, the author of The Undefeated Mind: On the Science of Constructing an Indestructible Self talks about the things that draw people together as friends.
Instead of building friendships with random people, we tend to build bonds with people who share the common interests, share common values, have gone through the same difficulties, and who support each other equally.
We’re being selective about friends because not everyone can serve the purpose of being able to exchange thoughts and feelings with us.
When we get to know people, there are four things we really look for.
Firstly, we want reassurance so we know we’re not alone in being a specific way.
Everyone of us has our weak spots. There’s always something that we aren’t satisfied with, or some thoughts that we’re reluctant to share with others because we’re afraid of being judged or being let down.
We need the kind of friend who understands our thoughts and weaknesses; so we can feel comfortable to let down our guard and be comfortable with who we are.
We also want to have fun with people who we can be silly with.
Life is stressful; and we’re taught to always be serious and mature at work and in life as a grown-up. Imagine yourself as an elastic band, if you kept on pulling yourself and stayed tense, you’d eventually break. That’s exactly what would happen if we didn’t get enough fun in life.
Friends here, serve the purpose of letting you be as silly as you want and share the joy and excitement with you.
And we need someone’s help to clarify our minds.
We’re all imperfect people, sometimes we are confused and our minds go chaotic.
For example, very often we are frustrated at work and not quite sure why, but after we share our confusions with friends, we somehow get things figured out and have a clearer mind to go back to work.
A thinking friend who gives us constructive advice and asks us probing questions can inspire us to solve our problems and get to know ourselves better.
Finally, we network to seek collaborators to help us achieve our goals.
We have our own dreams and goals but we are small and fragile as an individual. To get things going, we need collaborators to align their abilities and energies with ours.
Take Emma Watson as an example, she’s an activist in feminism, and she networks to gather like-minded people who also aspire to fight for gender equality through the HeForShe campaign and the feminist book club Our Shared Shelf.
The spiritual core reason for a friendship is help us change and grow.
Motivational speaker Jim Rohn once said,
“You’re the average of the five people you spend most of your time with.”
This relates to the law of averages, a theory that the result of anything will be the average of all outcomes.
So if you want to grow, be successful, or simply be happy, motivated and positive; the people you spend time with matter.
Moving on from some friendships simply means you’ve understood what real friendship is like.
You may ask, “what about those who don’t share my ambitions or interests? And those who can’t reassure my existence? Or those who I don’t really feel comfortable to be silly with?”
As time goes, you probably will feel difficult to stay friends with these people. Dare to let go of some people who don’t help you change and grow as a better and a happier person.
It doesn’t mean you’ve lost hope or belief in friendship, it simply means you’ve understood what a real friendship is like.
Move on from the friendships that you can hardly maintain. You don’t need to deny having these friends, and you can keep the memories with you. Moving on is just a way to help you get closer to true friendships that are best for you and others.
This article is inspired by The School of Life’s The Purpose of Friendship. Watch the full video here.