The small group of girls I consider my best friends are all having a tough time and I care deeply about my friends, but I also resent them at times. I understand that when they express sadness, disappointment, hurt, anger it can sometimes all come across as “crying wolf” because like me they tend to dramatize their emotions.
But I’ve come to realise that other people’s problems are the path to personal happiness. So, the dependence on being brought up to date with their dilemmas makes me feel a bit like a vampire, reliant for my survival on a diet of my girl friends’ misery.
I’ll come clean – the past few months has been really great for me (like today I’m flying out to an extremely fashionable event for two weeks) and there have been moments when sitting down to spoon out advice like medicine to others from the quagmire of their own existence has felt quite fraudulent.
But such moments aren’t necessarily results based, though there’s no question that being told you’ve made a positive impact on a friend’s life is pretty hard to beat. Being compelled to sit down and think hard about what might be bothering someone other than yourself is tremendously therapeutic, even when it fails entirely to turn into positive action. I’ve come to realise that far from tipping me over the edge into a similar abyss, the action puts the world further into perspective.
The particular satisfaction is available to all of us. Finding answers is far easier when you’re emotionally unengaged. This window to the wholly unique way in which each of us responds to often universal dilemmas offers confirmation that there is never just one side to a story or one way to view a problem.
The troubles we face are not what define us but how we deal with them. When life is in turmoil friends provide a safe place to sound out your problems, expand your understanding and seek advice. If you can’t do that within your peer group, how on earth do you expect to thrive and survive in the everyday scrum of living?
You’ll be amazed how much easier it is to see a path through the jungle when you’re not stuck in the thick of it. “Friends” isn’t just a term for those you text, but a demanding relationship that comes with responsibilities and expectations. It would be ironic if what we’ve become in this era of mass communication are entirely self-serving organisms lacking compassion and time to help each other. It’s definitely not what I’d call progress.