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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Saturday, April 20, 2024

How to maintain friendships


In elementary school, the notion of “friendship” and what constitutes a “good” friend is a lesson that is taught. Alongside basic addition and sentence formation, we learn to share our toys on the playground and to treat others with kindness. 

As we endeavour on into the journey of life, however, friendship shifts from being something that is taught to us to something that we are expected to know, almost instinctively. The friendships we cultivate become more intense and more meaningful, yet we navigate them only with the guidance of leftover, juvenile depictions given to us as kindergarteners. Adolescence and early adult years are challenging enough in terms of one coming to understand themselves — how can you identify what a good friend is when you’re still trying to identify who you are? 

As I approach my twenty-first year, I’ve become conscious of how necessary it is to be able to recognize good friends and let go of the bad ones. While I am by no means an expert on friendship and am definitely still working on applying these qualities to myself, I’ve narrowed down three aspects I think are vital to a healthy, rewarding friendship. 

Honest Communication. While seemingly simplistic, being comfortable honestly communicating with a friend is an intimidating goal to reach. This communication can spread across a spectrum of different contexts, ranging from personal feelings and experiences, worldly ideas, to most notably, how you are feeling towards one another. 

An enriching friendship makes room for tough conversations and creates an environment where, if one party is upset, they feel comfortable addressing the situation, knowing the other will respectfully listen. 

Challenge. Not in the form of external competition with one another, but challenge in a way that both parties symbiotically push each other towards introspection and growth. The brain can be a very isolating place; when your voice is the only one you can hear, you begin to accept everything you think as true. It’s important to have friends who will welcome your ideas, but not hesitate to challenge them, including one’s idea of self. 

Presence. It’s straightforward — good friends will be there. That is not to say that anyone should ever be at anyone’s beck and call, but a good friend will show up, case and point. 

Incorporating these values into my friendships has been an overwhelming task, but it is something I actively work at. I urge readers of The Daily Cardinal to do the same, with the knowledge that platonic relationships can be damaging when there is no equilibrium. That little kid who was taught to share toys on the playground is still inside all of us, and it is our responsibility to constantly teach that kid what it means to be a “good” friend. 

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