Lessons in Sisterhood: How to Be a Better Friend
Friendship is a basic component of human lives whether they be of a different gender or even species. We seek companionship in partners, relatives, classmates, co-workers, and even animals. But there's something about developing a tight bond with one of your girlfriends that makes us feel stronger and more grounded in a crazy and ever-changing world.
As we age, people enter and exit our lives. My mother always told me that you realize who your real friends are as you get older: The ones who are not meant to be in your life will find their way out, and the ones meant to be will remain. For the ones that stuck around, we thank you tremendously.
But exactly how well are we delivering in these fellowships and sisterhoods? Are we doing our part as the "other half" in our friendships? Could we do better?
I think it's appropriate to consider the failings of all the discontinued sisterhoods, and use them as lessons for doing our part to further cultivate our relationships with those who stuck around. We owe them that much.
- Do Away With Selfish Behavior
In the past, a very close friendship of mine began to fail due to selfishness. I was experiencing a huge change in my life; I was experiencing newfound happiness and fortune, having recently broke away from a very toxic and unhappy relationship, and began seeing someone who offered me more than I could've ever asked for, among other things. I sought to share my happiness with my "bestie," because that's what friends are for, right? However, my disclosure was met with a very dry and "bitter" response, one that completely disregarded my great fortune and shut down my attempt to share my happiness. I had celebrated theirs, so why couldn't they celebrate mine? When we experience hardships, or aren't really where we want to be in life, we tend to go into autopilot and focus only on ourselves. But when our loved ones seek out our congratulations, our positive affirmations, we have to remember that friendships are partnerships and that our world doesn't always revolve around one of us, but both of us. Celebrate their lives, just as you would your own. Sometimes, you're all they've got.
- Speak More, Listen More, and Offer Concrete Support
Sh*t happens. Problems with finances, relationships, family, school, and work are bound to rear their ugly heads. But when it does, we seek comfort in our friends, whether it be an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on, or a mouth to take advice from. Be there for your friends when they need you most. You might've expected "Speak Less, Listen More," but not in this case. How many times have we sent/received consolation texts saying "Wow, that sucks. I'm sorry," and that's the end of it? Depth goes a long way-pun intended. When your friend is having a hard time, or is broken down, and needs you, a passively short, uninterested text is not the best way to show concern and compassion towards your sister's lamentation. Put some effort into what you say. Show them that their sorrows mean enough to you that you'll ask questions, encourage her to keep pouring her heart out to you, and give detailed feedback-especially for the sisters that may be dealing with something much more complicated that standard stress (such as depression and anxiety disorders). Be patient, receptive, loving, and and comforting-don't dismiss your comrade when she needs you most.
- Honesty is ALWAYS the Best Policy
Unfortunately, I've also seen friendships end due to both lack of honesty, and strong presence of it. I've experienced both and personally, I hold that honesty is always the best path to choose, regardless of the outcome. We look out for our friends. We want the best for them, because in our eyes, they're queens who deserve the best-sometimes more than what they receive. That's when we put our foot down and speak out. Speak out against your friend's unhealthy relationship. Speak out against their addictive spending habits. If something is harming their life, it's our duty as their companions to vocalize it. Often times, we need to hear it from someone else to see the reality of our situations. Other times, we don't want to hear it, because we're forced to face an undesirable reality. But that's an unavoidable part of becoming an adult. If your honesty is not well-received, have confidence in knowing that you did the right thing for your friendship. You made an attempt to look our for your sister in arms, and that's what matters most.
Sometimes, I wonder where I'd be if it were for my friends, even the ones who I no longer have contact with. They helped mold me into the woman I am today. So take care of your sisters, the ones you can text any time of day, about any and everything. You are an equal part of the stitching that holds the fabric of your friendship together. Keep doing your part to keep that seam together, so that it lasts in the years to come.