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To have a friend, be a friend

March 06, 2007|by MADDIE WUNDERLICH

What is a friend?

When I ask this, I get answers such as, "the people I chill with at lunch"; "the people on my team"; or "everybody."

C'mon, what is a real friend? I friend is someone you want to hang out with and invite places just because they are who they are. Many people cannot tell me who their friends are.

My mother gave me an answer that made sense. She said, "A real friend is one who you can part from for years and then talk to them as if you have never been apart."

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But how can one make a strong friendship that lasts? You can start with being yourself around all people. Wear what clothing you like, listen to the music you enjoy and watch movies you are interested in.

Ignore the pressure to blend in with our friends. Girls are pressured to wear certain clothing, be a certain weight and live a certain life. Guys are pressured to be competitive and act like their friends. But it does not have to be that way.

To attract friends who will like you for you, listen to Dr. Seuss: "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."

After you figure out who likes to be around you for who you really are, good friendships are easier to cultivate, and lifelong friendships might result. People who hang around you for your parents' money or for what you act like are not real friends.

If you want to be a good friend, don't judge people by their clothing, money, schooling or cars.

Second, look for friends in all sorts of places - school, church, the neighborhood coffee shop or the mall. And don't exclude people who are not like you. You might have to dig to find a gem of a friend.

Don't immediately write off opposite-sex friendships. For all you girls, guys can be your friends without being your boyfriend. For you boys, girls can be your friends and not be your girlfriend. The difference between being friends and dating is physical contact. Go ahead. Give your opposite-sex friend a hug, hang out, go to the movies. Just do it as friends.

Remember this: True friends love the real you. They will support you when it feels like the world has abandoned you.

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