I heard that next Friday is International Friendship Day and it got me thinking about my friends and also how I act as a friend myself.
The lockdown time might have made us realise just how important our friends and social networks are, and how we need to nurture our friendships to keep them intact. But, on the other hand, through lack of social contact, maybe some of us have forgotten how to be a good friend or what it means to be there for the people who love us.
So, here is a little refresher if you need a reminder of what it means to be a good friend...
Prioritising your time
Many of us complain that we are too busy and that we don't have time to do things, but if you really prioritise something, you can make the time. Kids, work, hobbies, housework and yoga classes are something we all juggle, but integrating time into your schedule for social interaction is crucial.
Friendships grow through shared experiences and quality time - so a good friend will always find time to pick up the phone, write a letter, or pop over with some cookies. Even if short, try to maximise the time you have together to strengthen and maintain your bond.
On the other hand, a good friend is low-maintenance. Best friends regularly say that even when they haven't been in touch for a while, when they do finally meet up it feels as if it was yesterday. In other words, friends shouldn't require all of your attention all of the time. They should understand when life gets busy.
Opening up and allowing each other to be vulnerable.
A good friend is someone who is genuine and can be themselves around you. You should allow yourself to be vulnerable when you need to be, without fear of judgment. Similarly, when your friend needs to be vulnerable, you should listen to them without judgment.
To be a good friend, you have to be open-minded. Remaining open-minded and not letting your own biases influence your advice is hard, however, it demonstrates your understanding and support.
Exposing your emotions might be difficult, but it helps to share the load with a good friend. After all, they might have shared experiences or some good advice to offer.
You don't always have to offer the best advice either, sometimes just being there to listen is more than enough.
Trusting your intuition
Only a good friend will be able to pick up on emotions and sense when something is not right. Even if your friend says they are okay, you will know that they are not. Pay attention to the small things and you will get to know your friend in an intimate and emotional way.
You might even learn when 'not' to say anything, and when to simply be quiet if that's what you sense your friend needs at that time. Respect the boundaries and always trust your instincts.
Challenging & supporting each other
Good friends support and challenge each other to grow. Even when the path is not one that they would take themselves.
True friends accept that you may both move in totally different directions because what's right for one of you isn't necessarily right for the other.
Jealousy and insecurities can also often get in the way of friends supporting each other to take challenges. However, true friendships push through those barriers.
If your friend is embarking on a new challenge, support them in every way you can. And, don't just do it because you expect the same back in return someday. Do it because you genuinely want them to thrive and succeed.
A courageous friend is one who will stand up and do the right thing - even when no one is looking.
It takes strength and courage to do this and really defines you as a person.
Whether this is closing down some gossip on a WhatsApp group or taking action against a bully, a good friend will seek a solution purely for the benefit of their friend.
So, this International Friendship, let's all make a real effort to be the best friend that we can be. Kindness and smiles are free, so let's give them out in abundance.