Notes to My Daughter: “The Value of Friendship”

C.S. Lewis beautifully characterizes the beginning of friendship in this phrase: “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself…” You see? You genuinely connect with another once you’ve discovered that parts, the not the whole of their story, is similar to yours. In fact I’m convinced that if we dig deep enough with most people, who are willing to share and open up, you may find that you have more in common than presumed with a first impression. The idea to connect with someone by way of a shared experience. Why does this work? The key word here is “connect”. Humans, even at a cellular level, are built for connection. Our unconscious desire is to be in concert with others; to be in a tribe. Know this: We all want to be loved and understood and this is best done in the context of friendship. The Greek’s concept for friendship is known as Philia. “Admiration” falls under that definition as well, which is important to note as it leads me to explain how we can create enemies.

From time to time, you’ve likely heard me use this playful expression “There’s a sweet and sour side to everything.” For example if you find yourself becoming jealous of someone, even slightly, this could be the “sour” affect of your initial thoughts. The inverse of this, the “sweet” aspect of this sensation, is admiration. If you find you’re jealous of someone, there’s a good likelihood that you have something in common with that person. This person could be a friend. If you proceed to allow jealousy or envy permeate your perception of this person, then you’ll begin to create a kind of enemy or antagonist. You’ll forever create them to be a thing that has something you want. In the process you lose yourself, leaving yourself susceptible to worry, anxiety, and possibly depression. Consider this notion that what we desire most is always just out of reach. So then, close the distance. Turn those sour feelings into sweet feelings. Approach this person with an open mind and learn about their story. Come along side them in relational equity. If they reciprocate your admirations, then you may just have a friend. If they don’t, then be quick to accept that your stories don’t entirely harmonize and that’s okay. Every need is not a call.

There’s a friend for everybody. I believe that there’s a match for each of us. I suggest that you keep a small, manageable group of close friends. There are things you can share with them that you may never share with your family and this is a good thing. Look for friends who have a “growth mindset”, whose essential virtues are rooted in honesty and truth. These will be friends for life.

Something to keep in mind:

*To make a friend, be a friend.

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