–noun 1. a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.
2. a person who gives assistance; patron; supporter: friends of the Boston Symphony.
3. a person who is on good terms with another; a person who is not hostile: Who goes there? Friend or foe?
4. a member of the same nation, party, etc.
5. (initial capital letter) a member of the Religious Society of Friends; a Quaker.
—Idiom7. make friends with, to enter into friendly relations with; become a friend to.
bef. 900; ME friend, frend, OE frēond friend, lover, relative (c. OS friund, OHG friunt (G Freund), Goth frijōnds), orig. prp. of frēogan, c. Goth frijōn to love
1. comrade, chum, crony, confidant. See acquaintance. 2. backer, advocate. 4. ally, associate, confrere, compatriot.
–noun 1. the state of being a friend; association as friends: to value a person’s friendship.
2. a friendly relation or intimacy.
3. friendly feeling or disposition.
bef. 900; ME; OE frēondscipe. See friend, -ship
2. harmony, accord, understanding, rapport.
“Friendship” has pretty broad definitions today. You can “friend” someone you don’t even know, you may never meet, maybe even someone you’d probably never associate with in real life, if you had the opportunity. Facebook has made “friend” a verb, as in “to friend someone” I have facebook friends who are people I forgot about 25 years ago, but apparently they didn’t forget me, and asked me to ‘friend’ them. That was a little weird, but I did anyway, more out of curiosity than anything.
Friendship is a serious thing for me. I’ve never had large collections of friends, not as I define them. It doesn’t come easily for me to give myself into a relationship with another person. Friendship *must*, by my reckoning, be mutual. I have to be able to whine about my problems to them as I let them do to me, and get sympathy in return, as I (try to) give to them. I have to laugh, cry, worry, and bounce ideas off of them. It must absolutely be mutually beneficial.
I admit that I am not the best friend in the world. I worry sometimes that I’m not empathetic, at least not outwardly, so the person *knows* I’m thinking of them. If a friend is going through a really rough time, I’m awkward and not really sure of what I’m supposed to do. So, I do what I know I can. I try to listen to them, I certainly pray for them. I attempt to encourage them. I hope for the same thing in return, when I’m having difficulties, and in the case of a couple of people, I do receive this, these are the people I consider my truest friends.
So now I am in a position where the possibility of making a new friend or two is there. And it terrifies me. What if I screw up? Do I know the rules of the game? What if it turns into the same thing I dealt with when I was younger, where all the right noises were made and my defenses relaxed then BOOM…suddenly the whole world (so it seemed) knew all my history and made a mockery of it, or they made all the polite noises but never asked me to lunch with the rest of them.
It doesn’t seem like that’s whats happening, but I am cautious…wary,even. That caution makes me awkward, unsure of the right things to say or do, so I end up not doing the right thing and coming off as a little weird,awkward,socially inept.
Online friendships are something similar. I am still uncertain about the authenticity of them. Sometimes they seem onesided, and by my definition friendship is definitely a 2 way street. I’m not sure how to move ahead, or even if I should. I don’t know that baring my soul is something that ought to happen. I do know that until I’m sure, it won’t happen.
What I worry about is if I say what’s on my mind, the response will be “oh shut your whining. You have it good and you know it.” Yes, I do have it good, and I know that. I also know I have the insecurities and fears of any other person, and would appreciate some reciprocity when it comes to voicing them. Because that’s what friendship is.
I’ve been pondering online friendships over the weekend. Who is supposed to be my friend? Anyone? People I have similar interests with? Someone I’d let stay in my home? Someone who’s company I would enjoy IRL, and who would likewise enjoy mine? Someone who respects my life and who’s life I also respect? It’s hard to tell, isn’t it, when the only way you know them is through words on a screen. So I am thinking caution is is order here. A step back, perhaps, some evaluation. Some time, even. I’m not sure how I am going to go about it, but I’m going to start by really seriously thinking…cogitation, rumination…all that. Because friendship is important, not to be taken lightly, definitely not to be taken lightly.