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Friendship is Worthless.

Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art.... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.
— ― C.S. Lewis

I am old. Okay, maybe not exactly old. But I have very recently celebrated my twenty-ninth birthday and have come to grips with the fact that I only have 358 days left of my twenties. Instead drinking and shouting and crying about this existential season in my life (or in addition to, I should say), I have focused much of my energy on what I hope to be valuable contemplation. The more I think about it, the surer I am that friends, apart from being important and beautiful and vital and a slew of other fantastic but obvious things, are a reflecting surface in which we can observe ourselves and our behavior.

The quality of the friend (not the person- this is important) is directly correlated to the clarity of the reflection. The clarity of the reflection equates to the amount of information or feedback that we are receiving about ourselves from others. What the hell am I talking about? Well here are a few real(istic) examples:

 

(Zero Reflection)

Me: “I went on a date the other day. She was great, funny, attractive, and I think she might give me another shot!”

Friend: “Yeah? You had me at attractive… tell me more!”

            Funny, normal, and completely okay. This is your friend reflecting what they feel about your situation. Does this make them a bad friend? Absolutely not.

 

(Good Reflection)

Me: “I went on a date the other day. She was great, funny, attractive, and I think she might give me another shot!”

Friend: “How do you feel about the date on your end? How do you think you came across? Were you kind and funny and charming like you usually are?”

            This is great! This is your friend being invested in your date and story. They want to know details. It’s wonderful to feel heard, right?

 

(Excellent Reflection)

Me: “I went on a date the other day. She was great, funny, attractive, and I think she might give me another shot!”

Friend: “I know you’re a self deprecating kind of guy, and that’s okay, I like it, but what do you mean by “she might give you another shot”? I know you’re being funny, but I want you to make sure that you know your worth as well. Not in spite of her, but because nothing is more attractive than emotional security.”

This is what I am talking about. This is coming from someone who knows the speaker and cares much more about the speaker than they do about the date. It doesn’t matter if this person is a priest or a raging alcoholic, the quality of the friendship is indisputable.

Does this mean that we just dump all of our “example one” friends? ABSOLUTELY NOT. This is merely an opportunity for us to be the valuable reflection. More on that in a different blog.

                It is important to keep in mind that we all communicate differently, of course. In many ways, this is differentiation is the most vital part of having good friends and being a good friend. We must be receptive and without ego when approaching these different views of ourselves, because after all, it doesn’t matter how perfect and clear a mirror may be, if we refuse to open our eyes to it. The key, after learning/working on opening our eyes to the reflection, is to find different and valuable reflections of ourselves. But how?

 

In high school we find our friends. We are dropped in as 13-year-olds with partially formed brains into an environment where three fourths of the population isn’t just older, but have gone through what we haven’t yet. Whether you look back on high school as a warzone or some of the best years of your life (or both), the need and value of friendships is arguably universal. Scrambling on our hands and knees, we find those as insecure and dorky as ourselves, and form bonds with them because we have evolved to realize that there is safety in numbers. If you’ve seen “Freaks and Geeks” then you get what I mean. If you haven’t, immediately fix this problem in your life.

One of our oldest and truest clichés is that we lose friends after high school. Time is like a gold sifter, helping to discard the rocks and sand while trapping the gold. This isn’t to devalue the friends we had made in high school, this is to explain that moving forward in life is often a painful but important process.

 

In our twenties we choose our friends. This is something that I am immeasurably thankful for on a personal level. As we morph into who we will more-or-less be for the rest of our lives, we find people who are going through the same process. The difference is that we have (hopefully) learned what qualities we value in friends and seek those people out. Sometimes it’s an “oh? You were a hardcore kid in high school, too?” and sometimes you feel the empathic connection that is real and indescribable. Both provide value and prospective.

 

In our late twenties, our friends find us. By now, we have lived a little life. This offers some much needed, and impossible to fabricate, experience. This is when we find what I call our “war buddies”. This metaphor can apply to the friends we make in a trade school, graduate school, the workforce, living abroad, etc. Really, any time that we find ourselves in an environment of challenge, we find people to go through it with. For me it came from living a year abroad in Korea. My brother found these friends while touring with his band across the U.S. and Europe, my friend Hannah did this by finding friends while studying at Columbia. If you find yourself wondering “where are my ‘war buddies’? Where do I find this connection post college/ post twenty-five?” Right here. You find them at Black Cat. You find them among all the coffee, music, art, motorcycle, creative nerds. Always remember, friendship is not a finite currency, there is an immeasurable amount of it waiting for you and a lot of it is here at BCMC.

CommunityKyle Durham