Do you ever ask yourself: How many close friends should a person have at a given moment? How many close friendships can a person handle at a given moment?
Each person who comes into our life brings us their story. We can sympathise with some better than others, then ideally, we establish close friendships and “normal” friendships.
Typically, even among close friends, we communicate via different pathways. With some, we will bond over relationship problems; with some over philosophical topics; with some through the love of cooking; with some through studying together, etc.
Some friends are always nearby. Some friends are only near in mind. In rare cases, we even have close friends whom we’ve never met in person. Distance plays an important role in maintaining a friendship. But with technology which is bringing people closer more than ever, distance is becoming more of an excuse to end a friendship, rather than a legitimate reason.
When I was younger, I believed in the idea of BFFs (best friends forever). Growing up, I realised how naive it was. I think the only BFF we can ever have is ourselves, and that’s no easy feat. We can have breaks from our friends, but with our own selves, we have no choice but to be present 24/7. When is it the hardest to be our own friend? More often than not. The more changes we go through, internally and externally, the more challenging it becomes to be our own friend.
But what does it mean, really? To be our own friend?
- Is it being kind to yourself?
- Is it being supportive to yourself?
- Is it being honest to yourself?
- Is it being strong for yourself, even though you think you can’t?
- Is it making yourself a priority? How can we prioritise ourselves and not be narcissists?
We all know the struggles. And then alongside this complex relationship, we also need external friends to be deemed “socially capable”. Or maybe we need other friendships simply because we need a break from ourselves. Or obviously, they are wonderful people who make our life better. No matter what, the older we get, the smaller our close friend circle will become. People grow up, and people grow apart. Most people stop writing diaries when they grow up, what a shame. I think if everyone tries to keep a journal and speaks honestly to themselves, there will be more kindness in this world.
I’m at a point where I’m having to re-evaluate all of my friendships. It’s more tiring than a performance review for all your favourite employees. Some might question my motives. Isn’t it true that the more friends, the merrier it gets?
My answer goes: It’s about the balance between the friendship with yourself and with others. When your mind needs you, your capacity for others will shrink. If you still want to be there for the people you love, whilst being there for yourself, you have no choice but to minimise your circle. Quality over quantity. Cliché but true.
Lately, I’ve been starting out on a journey into my mind, which is a nicer way to put a simple truth: I’m learning to be a kinder friend to myself. Among other things, I’m learning to validate my emotions, to accept my identity and to create a judgement-free space for my thoughts. It’s a huge project, which is again why I have to re-evaluate other relationships.
Are we even friends?
Two years ago, I wrote a piece in Vietnamese called “New friends, old friends, and in-between friends”. I still stand by the philosophy that I preached, even though most people who appeared in that posts are no longer friends with me anymore (at the time we were “a group”). If I could go back in time, I would tell myself that it’s perfectly fine to not belong, because being a half-assed friend is so much worse than being a stranger. Of course, I can’t time travel, so I have my mistakes to thank for the wisdom that I acquired.
Dear my close friends, dear friends, dear strangers whom I might soon befriend, dear complete strangers whom I might never befriend, let’s agree that it’s not fate that will either keep us together or keep us apart, rather we are the real protagonists of our own story. I hope you’ll give your best to me, as I’ll give my best to you. I hope you’ll let me go, as I’ll respect your choice to leave. I hope no matter how our friendship might turn out, shall we meet again someday, let it be clear that we can always start all over again.
P.S. I wonder how many of you consider me as your “close friend”, and if I feel the same; and vice versa… The truth will be brutal.