Friendships - Living Through the Tides of Time

Friday, September 23, 2016





“Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It's not something you learn in school. But if you haven't learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven't learned anything.”  Muhammad Ali

Note: It took me a while but I had promised my readers to do a post on friendship, so here it is. Dedicated to all my beautiful friends! Happy reading xx

A friend is someone you call in distress or when you're feeling over the moon, whine with about something as petty as your weight for hours even if it lulls them to sleep (who cares, they would stick around anyways; they’ve witnessed the worst of you), also someone you could drag along to an exceptionally boring venture to make it less boring, someone you don't mind calling you names, someone with whom you share inside jokes, and also someone you consider your personal asset. I remember how the most yawn-inducing lectures would seem interesting sitting next to a friend in the class – we have all scribbled those one-liner messages on our notebooks and exchanged meaningful looks that simply lit us up!!! 

Imagine the dynamics of your friendships through different phases of life. People probably have fun together and they're immensely fond of each other, which is why they choose to become friends in the first place, but as we mature, we are able to reflect on our bonds in a much more complex manner. The truth is, friendships change as we grow older. During school and college years, making friends is easier. There are no strict standards that we hold and everyone (almost everyone) we meet during that phase is at the same stage of life as we are; unmarried, no kids, wondering what future holds for them and so on. It’s easier to find people with identical interests and routine.

Childhood friendships are fun - there is a sense of pride in calling the other being your friend. It feels like an achievement when you introduce that wee bairn (as tiny as yourself) standing next to you at your birthday party – you proudly announce to your parents, ‘Hey! This is my friend. This is the one I sit next to in the class. This is the one I told you so and so about.’ There is an unexplainable joy and excitement in the fact that you could share your little secrets with someone outside your family – you tell them how you sneaked into the fridge to steal your sibling’s chocolates and they share the tale of their broken new toy and how they hid it under the bed to keep it from their parents. These friendships are mostly play-based. We become friends with children who are easily available - if they are spending more time playing with us, sharing their toys and other belongings, showing up on our birthdays with nice gifts, enjoying the same games and activities as we do, or doing a sleepover on weekends, we love being friends with them. So it's more like having a handy playmate. The other day I asked my best friend what friendship meant to her during her early school years, and she responded by saying that a true friend was someone willing to share their erasers and pencils with her. For me, as I remember, best friend meant somebody who did not jeer at my hair (I had big loose curls and my class boys referred to it as a bird’s nest – ouch! that still hurts!).

Friendships become more meaningful as we move to adolescence and into adulthood. The 'age of storm and stress' brings with it a million reasons to stress out and worry – naturally since you’re going through mental and physical transformation. You could feel and act ugly, lost, out of place, cocky, arrogant, lonely, frustrated, and whatnot. Phew! Those crazy years! It is during these years that we begin to ‘choose’ friends. We rely more on common interests, hobbies, and ideals. We want to be with peers who make us feel more accepted and welcomed, and less judged based on our physical appearance – the silver string of braces holding our crooked teeth back or the pair of glasses that we so loathe. More intimate friendships evolve as friends begin to trust each other with personal secrets. They use each other as a safe base for exploring issues and problems that confuse them. It’s like discovering an altogether new and brighter side of friendship. It is when you begin to pour your heart out to your best friend who is a godsend to help you deal with ‘growing up’. You discuss your crushes with them and how you think you can conquer the world when you grow older. You are hurt if they miss out your birthday and a little insecure if they make new friends. They are the first ones you want your slam books to be filled in by (I wonder if kids still do slam books today – I think FaceBook has somewhat substituted that trend). 

As you grow older and step into adulthood, your number of friends decreases. You start choosing your friends as cautiously as you choose a life partner. Generally, the largest slump in friends occurs after people get hitched, which is ironic, because they lose the very people who helped them reach these major life decisions. As people struggle through their busy schedules, they are more likely to bank on relationships like co-workers, because it is more convenient for time-strapped adults to stay friends when they already have an excuse to spend time together, and also the fact that they have commonalities to talk about - someone to rant with over their workplace issues, for instance. 

As life accelerates, dynamics change, new relationships are formed and friendships are put on a back-burner. Adult friendships frequently take a backseat to jobs, spouses, children and relocation. Where once you could run over to a friend’s house at a moment’s notice and see if they could hangout, now you have to ask them if they have a couple hours to grab coffee in two weeks. After a certain point in life, frequent phone conversations with dear friends often dwindle into occasional FaceBook posts. Whereas once not seeing your friends everyday felt like having a rug pulled out from under you, you now wait for days and months to hang out with them. Whether we like it or not, but as time goes by, priorities and responsibilities shift, and schedules fill up, and as a result one relation that suffers the most is that of friendship.

Friendship, however, is one bond with no strings attached except for those we choose to tie - which is just being there, silently or loudly. It cannot be denied that we could change and get busier or separated by life events or job transfers. This all might be true, but to me, it just means that the times our schedules do all line up and we can share that cup of coffee together, it would be just like picking up where we left off. True friendships always survive and pass the test of time.

Here is to friendships living through the tides of time!!!

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Amna's Goodreads Bookshelf

To Kill a Mockingbird
Animal Farm
Of Mice and Men
The Alchemist
Me Talk Pretty One Day
Romeo and Juliet
Lord of the Flies
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The Odyssey
A Tale of Two Cities
Frankenstein
Moby-Dick; or, The Whale
Les Misérables
Eat, Pray, Love
The Poisonwood Bible
The Joy Luck Club
Middlesex
The Memory Keeper's Daughter
Lolita
Under the Tuscan Sun


Amna Tariq Shah's favorite books »