Sunday, January 22, 2006

Define "Friend"

My good friend often wonders why some people are more likeable than others. So last night, sleepless in my bed, waiting for the 16 year old to come home, I think I came up with an answer. I think we like people for two major reasons: they are similar to us in the major ways...lifestyle, intelligence, temperament. Those are the things that initially draw us together; they help us form our early bonds of friendship. When we meet people who are our polar opposite, we back away or even avoid those individuals.

But I believe it is the second thing that is the more important of the two. I believe that our real friends have some character trait that we envy. It is a small thing. It creates an envy so small that we equate it with admiration. And that is why we wish to be with them. If we spend enough time in their company, we reap the benefits of this "thing" we envy/admire. We are allowed to bask in the aura this "thing" creates. If we meet a person who has no "thing" to give us, we do not seek out their company. They could be wonderful people, but without that little quality that we ourselves lack, what do they bring to the table?

And the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. My closest friends at work may not be the most outgoing, but they are outstanding teachers. They are intelligent, organized, and highly motivated. When I am with them, I feel the same way. I find myself trying to measure up to them. And that is a good thing. When I am with them, I feel confident and assured.

I have another friend who I adore. Why? Because everywhere we go she knows someone. I do not care where it is. I envy/admire her for that. Who does not want to be greeted with a smile and hug when they meet someone unexpectedly? The qualities my friend benefit me. She is popular, she is my friend, that makes me feel special. By watching her I am learning how to be a better person, a friendlier person. Through her I have met lots of people who I now call friends. And that is one of the reasons why I like her.

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