About Friendship

Every time I come to a new environment, I always think about building up new relationships and reflect on previous ones. Making friends has become a concern in my life, with a mix of roses and thorns. I have tried so many ways of socializing with others but still, it doesn't get easier. When I was a little kid, all of my friends were my neighbors. We grew up together, our parents knew each other, and almost every one of us knew each other’s deepest secrets. We played together every day. We would often quarrel, but we would soon forget it, and nothing could separate us. In such a free and tolerant environment, it never occurred to me that friendship is a serious matter and needs great consideration. When I was that age, I said whatever I wanted to say, and did whatever I wanted to do, without any thought of consequences but still had good friendships.

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As I grew up, I always reflected on my childhood. I can’t help wondering how I could deal with so many intimate friends so easily, without being polite, friendly, modest, self-controlled, and lots of other things that are needed to make friends later in life. Consequently, I went to middle school with hardly any social skills.

During my first two years in middle school, I did make a few friends, but we all eventually separated. At that time, I thought there was something wrong with me. Who would like a domineering and willful person who speaks inappropriately and never considers others’ thoughts? To get along well with my friends, I started to speak less since I was not good at it and gave up my own interests for others. Yet I still felt unhappy. This didn’t seem to be the right way of making friends.

It was not until the last year in my middle school that I finally met the first real friend in my life. She was a nice person, experienced and tolerant in dealing with people. All my shortcomings seemed to disappear when I got along with her. Everything was so natural and never did I need to wear a “mask” around her. I knew that it was not that I became a perfect person, but it was her that made me feel like that. Whenever I said something inappropriate, she would tell me later privately, and if I annoyed her, she would let me know but quickly forget it. This might be my only advantage: I never get angry at criticism. With her company, I gradually explored ways of getting along with others. Sometimes I think about how I owe her a lot and it was her who made me what I am now. This is a real friend. 

Time flew by and I soon entered high school. I was lucky this time, encountering another real friend very soon. She was like me in the past, not good at talking and being with others. However, she had keen eyes and a sensitive heart, giving her insight into both the beauty and the evil of the world. The way we got along with each other was exactly what I wanted, having serious discussions on social issues, philosophical problems, literature etc. These discussions are not common even between friends, but we just worked it out so naturally. I started to understand who she really was under her cold face. 

It was true that getting along with my new friend was not as comfortable as before, but through this process, I also became more flexible and easygoing. Sometimes I thought I was like my aforementioned friend, though sometimes annoyed with her poor socializing skills, I received mostly happiness and spiritual satisfaction. 

While writing this article, I suddenly realised that the way I deal with my real friends is similar to  what I did with my childhood friends. But the essence is different. 

My childhood friends and I met at the most carefree time, when we were all naïve children. Such a time will never happen again, so I always miss my childhood and childhood friends. Not long ago, we reunited again. Though we haven’t been together for almost 8 years, and we all went through different lives, with some going abroad, some staying in traditional Chinese school, and some going to international schools, we were still immediately comfortable with each other and absorbed in talking about the past.

Nevertheless, it is difficult for me to regard them as my real friends again, because we don’t have any ideological fit and communication. The blank years have become a huge gap between us, and the past memory is hard to fill.

For my real friends, it won’t be like this. No matter how long we haven’t seen each other, our relationship keeps still. The shared memories are sweet and meaningful enough to remember by heart. Our shared experiences and understandings make us not just friends, but soulmates, always trusting and caring about each other. Even if we do not talk much, we miss each other in our hearts, and we believe our counterparts must be missing us too.

After so many years thinking about friendship, I still cannot reach the correct answer. Maybe there is no correct answer at all. But at least for me these days, friendship is all about sincerity and honesty. Whenever I feel uncomfortable or proud of my friends, I will tell them directly but privately. Although sometimes it is hard to speak out, it is what I think friendship should be. It is not a process of pleasing others or showing off yourselves, but mutual support and improvement.

The process of making friends is also the process of growth, the process of walking out of my own small world and integrating into society, and finally finding the balance between myself and the outside world. 

Opinions from other people:

Q1: What is friendship?

A1: Friendship will not fade over time. Even if you don’t contact each other often, your relationship will not change. You share blessings and difficulties, promote and support each other.

A2: A true friend is one that you can share anything with and don’t need to be afraid of being betrayed.

A3: Real friends do not have to be like-minded. Two completely different people can also become close friends. We can get spiritual motivation and support from our friends, and we won’t be stingy to give these to our other friends. 

Q2: How do you get along with your friends?

A1: Understanding and tolerance, conveying ideas and knowledge when communicating, supporting each other instead of complaining.

A2: Be honest.

A3: Real friends still need to keep a distance, but it is the most comfortable, relaxing and proper distance.

Ps. One of my friends told me that when she was answering my questions, she felt embarrassed as if I was spying on their attitudes towards me and easily connected the questions with reality——this is definitely another social problem I haven’t expected.

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