As I triumph and tumble through my 20’s, I’ve had a lot of “ah-ha” moments about different things. One of the more recent realizations has been about friendship. I think most people have something they yearn for throughout life that sets up a pattern of behavior and in my case, I’ve always wanted that classic “BFF;” like the ones you see on TV. You know, the “Shawn” to my “Cory” (“Boy Meets World”)? The friend that uncannily understands you, grows with you as opposed to apart from you and you two bicker once every blue moon? Some may say that type of friend is rare or doesn’t exist, but as cynical as I tend to be, I’ve always believed in the concept because of how often I’ve seen it in daily life and it seemed like everyone had that classic friend but me. Most of grade school, I was always the least popular kid; I didn’t fit in for some silly reason or another. I got separated from the one kid who was my partner in crime due to being a “navy brat (my searches to find her on social media have been unsuccessful).” Anyhow, being low on friends lead me to invite anyone into my life that would be nice to me. This wasn’t a great idea. Long story short, I tolerated a lot things I shouldn’t have and was hesitant to end relationships because either I was scared I wouldn’t make any new friends or it felt like I would be wasting years of time and effort. I should’ve taken the leap while I was still in the large social world that was college, because it’s harder to make new comrades you can deeply connect with once in the workforce.
I’ve realized how much various relationships gradually and insidiously brought me down, and when you’re already cynical and have an ongoing battle with depression, it’s a formula for disaster. Things can get especially tricky with friendships in your 20’s, as most 20-somethings have a lot of self-absorption, arrogance, insensitivity and self-righteousness that they’re oblivious to.
You have friends that will tell you how to behave, nitpick at everything you do, convince you you're crazy, strange, need to change and that everything is wrong with you. They’ll make you inadvertently (and sometimes purposely) feel bad about yourself; see every flaw in you. Use the things you’ve told them in confidence to judge you or take digs when it’s convenient. In the least, they’ll fail to repay the love and respect you’ve given them. It will be hard to dissociate and say goodbye because they were all there for you at some point, but that was some point. Once they no longer meet emotional needs, they're taking up space. I used to hate the adage that some are around for a “season and a reason” because I've always believed that loyalty is a part of true friendship, but not everyone operates that way, unfortunately. Not everyone has the same expectations of their friends or the same definitions of friendship. Some fail as a friend, not because they're bad or disloyal people, but because they don't know how to be a friend. There are more people in this world who have never been truly loved and don't know what it is to be bonded to another, than those who do. Most spend their life chasing that type of thing. Whether or not you have sympathy for their lack of knowledge and the patience to try to show them what it means, is it up to you, but know that it's a very difficult task and your pupil may never learn.
It will be easy to accept poor friendships or behavior because you don’t know that there’s something better. After a couple of these bad boys, you’ll think this crap is the norm and Shawn Hunter isn’t out there, but he is. Try making friends in a setting unorthodox to you. Shawn may be of a different background or culture than you. He might be that kid next to you in class, church, work or hell, Wal-mart. You never know. I think I’ve finally found Shawn; let’s hope I’m right. We met in the most unusual, unexpected way. So far, this is one of the best friendships I’ve ever had and it only made my peer history insights more vivid. I’m already seeing a positive transition in my attitude and perspective. It’s funny how much a simple change in scenery (or in this case, camaraderie) can make a world of difference.