Analyzing the genesis, the value and path to friendship.

By Waceke Wambaa

Why bother with friends? Why bother with people if you know at some point you’re going to argue, feel betrayed, hurt, anger and the like?

Why bother?

Because friendship, like anything else, has at least two faces. You have the aforementioned side to friendship. But how about the other one… the face that encompasses riches of the heart, growth of the soul, a lifetime memories that only add to one’s life experience. That face, is so worth it.

May I postulate that friends are a crucial part of our life journey, even when we might not think we need or want them. They just are.

Can I join?

Think about it. From the time we are sucklings, we are forming bonds. First with those in our immediate environment and then enlarging that circle as we grow, as we become curious of the things, the people around us. Think about that toddler who can barely walk let alone talk, yet there is a certain spark in their eyes when they see someone their own size. They become curious and want to interact with them, stranger or family, they seek connection. Whether it’s through garbled baby talk, or a tactile experience, they reach out, conscious or unconsciously driven to form a bond.

Who’s your partner in crime?

So if we are seeking connection before we can actually say the actual word, it points to us having that innate sense of seeking others with whom we can bond with. That might start with playing with the kids in your neighborhood, cousins, daycare or childcare environment, graduating to kindergarten, older classmates and the like.

Watch me, superstar!

Over time, we refine these shared bonds and experiences that make up the friendship groups we drift in and out of throughout our lives. There are friends who are part of that larger cohort, or friends who are the intimate few with whom you share more of your heart with.

I’m so glad we can talk…

With all these friends, there is a common bond, a connection that is nurtured as we experience life together – hanging out, talking on the phone, going to the movies, events – births, birthdays, new jobs, you name it, all celebrated together. Those life experiences can run deep… at times, painfully so – financial failures, marriage challenges, the death of a loved one. The list can be longer than long. But it is these friends and those interactions with one another that keep us sustained, helping us through rough periods in our lives. These combined experiences over the years deepen our bonds with one another, becoming the fuel that keep the flames of friendship alive and thriving.

Selfies… the stuff modern memories are made of

Notice how when we don’t connect meaningfully with anyone, depending on each persons make up or personality, there can be a sense of loss felt acutely. Or overtime, feelings may arise whether of deprivation or loneliness and the like, that have a correlation in the dearth of meaningful connection that layers of friendship can provide. Think of the example of the Covid pandemic. How in 2020, in-person connections ground to a halt and the world was left starving for meaningful social connections. Part of living with victory in mind is recognizing that as humans, we were created to have a bond, be in community, socialize, interact with one another.

Thankful to hang out

With this all said, is there a list that can define how to chose a friend?

Let’s recognize that a lot of this happens organically. Think of the young toddlers above. They don’t have a spreadsheet listing the merits of every person they meet to determine whether they are a good fit or not. They just explore their interactions at the level of their cognitive maturity or are bound by the dictates of their parents, or whoever provides opportunities for these social bonds to occur and they move on from there. Think of the example of when you were younger, when your parents took you to a party hosted by their friends where there were going to be kids you knew and didn’t know. Not going to the function was not an option. So you went and sorted yourself out as best as you could with those with whom you interacted with. You maybe had a fantastic time, or otherwise based in large part by whether or not you could find someone with whom you could connect with.

When cognitive maturity meets sophistication.

As we grow older, we like to think we become more sophisticated in our choice of friends. And that is true, in part. Yes, some may argue that choosing friends boils down to people with whom we have similar pursuits, or similar cultural and social experiences like growing up in the same community, etc. That these are some of the main criteria for choosing a meaningful friends. But that’s not all.

There are the intangibles:

  • How you just “click” with someone.
  • Or y’all might just argue most of the time but this is an energizing experience for both of you – you get each other.
  • Or you may be polar opposites yet your personalities gel for no apparent reason.
  • Or how decades later, y’all don’t know how you became friends but you just are.
How long has this been going on?

There are some things that are truly undefinable. Instead of trying to figure it all out, why not enjoy the moment? Enjoy the friend.

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