Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Friendship and The Golden Rule

When growing up, especially through middle and high school, I struggled with having real friends. I'm not going to give the whole personal rundown, but to sum it up...my mom was right when she said, "As you get older, you'll realize who your real friends are."

Let's face it, they didn't make the movie, Mean Girls for no reason. Girls can be brutally mean and hurtful to one another, so it can be hard to get to a point of being able to trust and lean on girlfriends after a certain amount of painful experiences.

While growing up, I had very high standards for myself in terms of maintaining strong morals and values and I only wanted to surround myself with people who shared in the same philosophies, so we could build each other up (bible study and my faith had a lot to do with this.) But, when you think of a girl in high school and college who doesn't drink, smoke, do drugs or have sex, the friendship pool and invitations to parties for her get smaller and smaller.  At the time, I thought it was good to be strong and steadfast in my beliefs, so I really didn't have a lot of friends, and I focused on my goals instead. I am a fiercely devoted friend and take being a good friend seriously, so when a "best friend" would wrong me in one way or another, I would be devastated and continue to lose faith in having solid friendships with girls. You could say, I had a SUPER SENSITIVE personality trait, which is exhausting for other people.

All these things are flaws on my part. When I look back now, I realize that when I thought I was being a good person and staying true to my values (while gradually cutting people out) I was actually being judgmental and intolerant. Granted, I was in high school so I didn't have the maturity to realize that everyone makes mistakes and grows differently, but I was too hard on people and expected too much from them. When someone let me down or disappointed me, I pretty much broke up with them and continued building my wall so I wouldn't get hurt. I thought, "you are drinking illegally or trying drugs, you are a bad person" or "you talked about me behind my back or didn't stand up for me, you are not the best friend I am to you." Now, that I am older and more open minded, I think, "Geez! Cut a person a break already. You will never have friends if you are so hard on people!"

Fast forward 3 years and I have learned so much. My mentality on being a good person has changed a bit and isn't so clear cut/ black and white. I am 1000 times much more accepting of people and their "isms" and have realized that EVERYBODY has problems, have gone through dark times in their lives, and no one is perfect. I have learned to take people as they are and my friendships have flourished. I am in such an amazing place right now and feel incredibly in awe of the fact that I have made genuine friends who share with me in the same philosophies and life values. I honestly don't know how I could survive life without them, and I find life to be so much more substantial with them in it.  They are the kind of friends that cheer for you, congratulate you in your success, and are there for you in pain.

In summary, you have to take people as they are. Quit being judgmental! Obviously, you want to guard your heart and wisely choose the people whom you trust and consider your inner circle. However, no matter how awesome a person or friend is, they are going to have qualities that annoy or irk you...but hey that's what makes them them! Who cares if one friend is having fun at the club and wants to get freaky with some random guy on the dance floor? She's having fun, let her! And if another friend goes MIA for a month or two for one reason or another...it's annoying and maybe you wouldn't do it, but there probably was a time in your life where you messed up too, communicate your feelings to her so she realizes how her actions affected you, then forgive her for it. That is how friends will last over time, with communication and forgiveness. BUT, do not be mistaken that there are situations where you may need to reconsider a certain friend for your "inner circle" because their actions are toxic and they are affecting you negatively. Maybe that person should be considered an acquaintance in your mind, instead. Your friends should bring out the best in you, support your dreams and take you as you are.

Finally, choose your friends wisely, be as accepting, forgiving, and trustworthy of them as you would want them to be of you, aka: The Golden Rule. No one is perfect, and a little communication goes a long way. 

Next week, I am planning on creating a Do's and Don't guide to being a good friend. I would love your suggestions for this list! :-)

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