Today’s Friday 5 comes from Jessica Cohen, our contributor and a senior at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA, where she double-majors in political science and Spanish. Jessica is an avid writer, and her poetry and essays focus on examinations of the human condition, the intricacies of life, and the fulfillment of human happiness. Through her writing, hopes to evoke introspection and self-reflection. Read more of her writing at Who Knows When What.
Being a good friend not only helps you to develop deeper, more meaningful relationships with others, but it also makes you a much happier person. When you know within that you do all that you can everyday to treat others as you would want to be treated, you feel a wonderful sense of peace. Life can be a difficult journey and it is up to us as individuals to do what we can each day to make that journey less arduous for those around us, especially for our loved ones who depend on us the most.
1.) Be there, even when you don’t want to: Maybe you’d prefer a night in your pajamas binge watching breaking bad over your friend’s dinner party, but your friend will remember those times you showed up and were there for them, especially when other friends decided to flake out. Your friend asked you for a ride to the airport at 4 in the morning? A good friend would say “absolutely.” In my eyes, being a friend means being the one who is there when everyone else didn’t want to be inconvenienced. Besides, you never know when you yourself are going to need that 4 A.M. airport ride.
2.) Listen and pay attention: Make your friend feel like you are there for them as a listening ear when they need one, and that you are not simply friends with them so that you can use them as an audience for your daily woes and triumphs. Being a good friend is about creating a symbiotic relationship in which both parties feel like they receive support. Also, pay attention to when your friend doesn’t seem like him or herself; if your friend seems down in the dumps lately, ask them what is going on. Simply noticing and caring enough to say something, shows them that you truly care about them and know them well enough that you can recognize when they aren’t quite acting like themselves.
3.) Accept each friend for who they are: You have to accept each friend for what they have to offer you as an individual, because one person can’t possibly have all of the qualities you may seek in a friend. For example, one of your friends may be extremely fun to spend a night out on the town with, but perhaps they are a little flaky and take two days just to respond to a text message. However, you probably have another friend who is extremely loyal and reciprocal, even though they may not be quite as much fun to grab a drink with on Saturday night as your other friend. Therefore, learn to appreciate and accept the good qualities that each of your friends has to offer you, rather then trying to pigeonhole them into being someone that they just aren’t and never could be. Every person is going to have flaws and strengths, but a good friendship is about seeing past those flaws and focusing on the beauty that person inside their heart.
4.) Be happy for your friends: A truly great friend shares in their friends’ sorrows but also in their joys. You can tell when someone is a genuinely good friend, because you will find them beaming with happiness upon hearing the news of their friend’s good fortune, simply because they care so much about their friend that any success their friend has is a small victory for them also. Quite simply, these are the type of friends that will be happy for you when you score that amazing promotion, instead of being jealous. The mark of someone who probably isn’t your biggest cheerleader, is the friend who jealously grits their teeth behind a forced smile upon hearing of your success.
5.) Forgive: Everyone in your life will hurt you at some point even if they are amazing people and friends. This is simply because as humans, we can be selfish and dumb and hurt the people we love the most even when we don’t mean to. Learning to forgive is one of the hardest things we as humans have to do, but that is part of what friendship is all about. Of course this does not mean you allow someone to remain in your life if they repeatedly hurt you and disregard your feelings. True friendship is about recognizing that we are all flawed individuals, and that sometimes we all make mistakes, however, it is also recognizing that the good in your friend much outweighs the bad, so much so that you find it difficult to stay mad at your friend for too long. Being a good friend is about sometimes swallowing your pride and to being willing to work through disagreements for the sake of a beautiful, meaningful relationship.