Friends are just nice-to-haves—you don't actually need them to survive, right?
I grew up with this mindset. Having experienced being part of (and excluded from) cliques back in grade school and high school, I somehow got the idea that I'm hard to be friends with. That I'm unlikeable. So instead of risking rejection and being affected with friendship dramas, I decided to pull back. I stopped making an effort to maintain most of my friendships. I was flaky. I was detached.
If my friends needed me, I'd be there. But as much as possible, I didn't want to burden them, I didn't want to need them. And if they stopped reaching out to me, I've stopped feeling hurt and just go with the flow.
I figured, I like my own company anyway and I wouldn't miss out on much.
I was wrong.
This year, my friends became my anchors. They let me have my adventures (and misadventures) without judgment (or maybe with a little bit, but only because they're concerned. They're very frank and straightforward about it too, and I love that about them), cheering me on when I have to set sail to new horizons. They do not hold me back nor discourage me, and instead they wish me well. Yet they also keep me grounded, holding tightly onto me when all I wanted was to sink into the deepest ocean trenches of shame, fear, and self-doubt.
Maybe I was right—I don't need friends to survive. But if I do want to thrive, I can't not nurture my friendships.
Friends add so much color, joy, wisdom, and depth in our lives. And they offer a special cure to some of our wounds. This cure comes in two kinds: the kind that soothes, and the one that stings (aka the truth)—we need both.
Lately I find myself praying to God, teary-eyed and thanking Him for loving me through the wonderful people He brought into my life—right when I thought I didn't deserve to be loved immensely.
I'm grateful for my best friend who rushed to get to me after work because I was falling apart, brought ice cream and listened to me as I cried my heart out, supported me on my lowest, and cheered me up when I didn't even want to smile.
I'm grateful for my closest confidantes, who tirelessly listen to me without invalidating my feelings, humbly impart their wisdom without making me feel less-than, and patiently reassure me of my worth when I'm overwrought or overwhelmed.
I'm grateful for my inspiring friends who encourage me to pursue creativity, develop healthy habits, and grow 1% better each day.
I'm grateful for my straightforward friends who gently call me out on my BS, not out of condescension but of care and concern.
I'm grateful for my oldest friends who believe in me when I don't believe in me anymore, who remind me of the better parts of myself that I've forgotten because I focused too much on what's wrong with me.
I'm grateful for my new friends who made space for me in their life despite my flaws and mistakes.
My friends helped me truly understand what Rachel meant when she said, "I'll be okay. Yeah, I've got my girls."
And from now on, I hope to treasure my friends for the gems that they are.
"Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken." —Ecclesiastes 4:9-12