In grade seven, my friend Stephen and I were at the mall and ran into two girls we knew from school. As we sat in the Second Cup just off of the food court, the topic of friendship came up. One of the girls said something to the effect of, “We are all friends.” I disagreed.
“I don’t think we’re friends” is probably not the most tactful thing to say to a girl in the seventh grade. I tried to explain my reasons to defuse the situation. Not being friends didn’t mean there was any animosity or dislike. I just felt that, since we rarely talked to one another or interacted on any regular basis, we were just people who knew one another, and that wasn’t friendship.
“Friendship” and “friends” are terms that get thrown around much more than they should. The Facebook friend is perhaps the most egregious offence: that person you may know or met that one time but have never interacted with since. Is that really a friendship? When you think about your friends, how many Facebook friends come to mind?
We need to take a moment to think about what it means to be someone’s friend. Friends make time for one another. You choose to spend your spare time with certain people, and they do the same: thus, you are friends. People have busy lives; we can’t be there all the time. But time is what makes making friends hard. If you choose to stop making time for people you once considered friends, are you still friends? We go well out of our way to see old friends and to do things with the rest of our friends. It takes even more effort to start a new friendship.
Spending time with someone encompasses a lot. That is the point. When I think about what it means to be a friend — showing support, helping one another, going on adventures — all of it, from the petty to the pivotal, requires time. It’s impossible to be there for a friend if you never take the moments or even hours out of your day. You cannot talk to them, support them or laugh with them — you cannot make new stories if you do not make the time for them.
If you would make time but others do not, is that a friendship? Yes, it is very possible that events transpire and they cannot make time. But if they simply will not make time, they are not a friend. Not being friends doesn’t mean animosity and antagonism. All it really means is there is a lack of interaction. Neither party spends their time on the other. There is not enough time to spend with everyone; this is what makes friends special.
Don’t throw around the word “friend.” Friendship takes effort from everyone to establish and maintain. The next time you have some free time, why not include new people or remember those people you haven’t had time for lately?
Making friends and being a friend is not clicking “yes” on a pop-up; it is interacting with people you want to spend time with and who want to spend time with you.