We don’t talk enough about friendship.
You would think, looking at friendships on TV or other media, that friends are people who spend time together and are always happy together, laughing and smiling. The only time they aren’t is if they’re having a silly argument, which will inevitably end in their realizing that they need one another.
However, friendship isn’t just sitting around, gossiping, and snacking on popcorn (although there is a lot of that). Friendship isn’t just there or not there. We talk about hard work in romantic relationships, but you work on your friendships too.
My best friend and I have never lived in the same place. The entirety of our relationship relied on FaceTime, texting, and taking time out of our day specifically for one another. The lack of physical proximity brought to light what’s true in all my friendships: the work.
It’s true even for the friends with whom I live. I spend time trying to do nice things for them, as they do for me. I spend time talking and getting to know them, for the clear purpose of our friendship. When we fight, as friends inevitably do, we work to fix it.
Here at Kenyon, I have a tight-knit friend group with which I spend the majority of my time. We eat meals together, we go out together, and we work together. Our predominant activity is card games: BS, Uno, and now the occasional game of Egyptian Rat Slap. They are played constantly, at the least for a half hour every day.
We’re not friends because of Uno though. We’re friends who know one another’s fears and anxieties, who love and tease one another mercilessly, who play a lot of BS. Our friendship isn’t built on a card game. It is built on our compassion and understanding for one another, for the hard work we put in to be friends, to be close.
My friend told me something that hurt my feelings the other day, and it wasn’t resolved by playing a card game. Instead, she apologized profusely, bought me candy, and wrote a bunch of sweet letters that made me laugh. I think we’re better friends now because we understand one another better. I know I appreciate her even more now, and I know our friendship is real
My friends have faults, I have faults, and we don’t always agree. I know I can be difficult to be friends with; at best, I’m headstrong and passionate, and at worst, pig-headed and way too loud. I don’t know how to be chill. However, I still have amazing, amazing friends who keep me around. We work hard to not only love one another, but to be able to keep being friends. This means not only spending a great deal of time together but also understanding one another. That takes work.
I’m so grateful for my friends. I don’t want to devalue them by simply saying that they “just happen” to be my friends, that a couple of shared jokes is what keeps them near me. That’s such a passive way to have any sort of human connection. These are people I love, and who love me, and we work to stay close. Friendship is an active process, and better for it.
Image Credit: Annmarie Morrison