by Migs Medina (Class 2023)
How many people can you truly, unequivocally, call your friends? Sure, you may have 1,000 friends on Facebook. Sure, you may have met a lot of people in school, and perhaps you’ve accumulated a lot of contacts in your cellphone over the years. Yes, you may even have a lot of people added to your friend lists in your favorite online games like DOTA2 and Counter-Strike.
But how many of them can you actually rely on and call your true friends?
First, we need to consider the usage of the label ”friend.”
In today’s day and age, the concept of friendship is often downplayed and undervalued. The mere fact that the label “friend” is thrown around so easily and so recklessly in social media platforms and in games just goes to show just how much we have lost sight of what a friend truly is: a person to keep us company through thick and thin—an inviting face in the crowd who we know we can bond over through shared interests and hobbies, but more importantly, a shoulder to lean upon when things get rough, and who we know will be reliable enough to be there when we need them the most.
It’s unfortunate that because we overuse the label of friendship, we cheapen its meaning and what it implies. What we most often call our friends are in fact merely acquaintances—connections which are fleeting, and which are based on either utility or pleasure. If you meet someone through a group work for your school activity, then you’ve made an acquaintance. You did not make a friend. Friendship should be held to a higher regard than just a simple fleeting connection. Let’s not make the mistake of being so quick to call people our friends. To call everyone we meet our friends only adds to the deteriorating value of friendship. Friendship is earned.
In fact, the very existence of the concept known as the “friendzone” is a testament to how society generally regards friendships as something cheap. I’m sure we’ve all heard of the line, “let’s just be friends.” It’s a cliché line which undermines what friendship really is: a relationship which needs to be worked for and maintained. Friendship is not simply the consolation of being rejected. Friendship is, and should, be much more. To think of friendship as the automatic result of a failed romantic relationship undermines the platonic love and incredible effort that is needed to cultivate true lasting friendships.
If anything, friendship exemplifies the highest ideals of love. In a friendship, you choose to spend your time and effort towards someone, without necessarily expecting anything in return—the essence of unconditional love. It is by nature giving, rather than receiving. Friendships are enduring, and something that you can fall back to at any time, no matter the circumstance.
Romantic relationships are more exciting and thrilling, but they are by definition self-serving. Needs of two partners need to be met. Expectations are set. And if those needs or expectations are not met, then it breaks apart. So much for love.
If anything, an argument can be made that the purest form of love occurs in friendships—you just love and love, but expect nothing in return. If you get rejected by your crush, how can your situation all of a sudden be boxed into the label of friendship? Platonic love doesn’t just appear out of the blue. In reality, if you do get rejected by your crush, no matter how many “let’s just be friends” are thrown around, you
still won’t be friends unless you actively try to become friends. The point is, friendship is more than just what we make it out to be, and we should start realizing that.
With Valentine’s just around the corner, it’s easy to get caught up with the idea of getting into a romantic relationship, all for the pursuit of “true love.” But true love might be staring you in the face. Look to your friends. Let’s not downplay platonic love.
As with romantic love, platonic love should be taken seriously. It’s not wrong to get attached to your friends, as long as you know your boundaries. But trust me when I say that your friends can ghost you, betray you, and hurt you in ways which some might regard as more painful than getting hurt in romantic relationships, especially if you are an introvert such as myself, and if really value and love the friends you have. Cherish your friendships and be a friend too. Put in the work. Friendship doesn’t imply being on or off and only interacting with someone when you need them. It is enduring. It is truly a relationship worth working and fighting for, involving true platonic love. It is not merely the absence of romantic love.
And because friendship is a relationship which involves true love, let us not forget to show it in our actions and in our words! Intimacy, in all its forms, is not exclusive to romantic relationships. Do you want to be physically intimate with someone? Go hug your friends or hold their hand! It might be taboo at first, but you do love your friends, right? Do you want to be emotionally intimate with someone? Why not open up and make yourself vulnerable to your friends, then you will see, that even in your darkest hour, your true friends will stay by your side and make sure you survive to see the light of day. Do you need a favor done but are embarrassed to call your friends because you feel like you are a burden? Go and challenge your friends—push the demands of friendship—see just how much they would do for you, that in the future, you know just how much you are truly loved. Oh and don’t forget to tell them just how much you love and appreciate them and give them gifts!
So, in summary, let us not cheapen the term “friend,” and let us always remember that friendship entails a lot of love. Let us always remember that platonic love is also a true form of love—arguably the purest— and that it should be recognized, celebrated, and worked on. And finally, let us not be afraid to show just how much we love our friends.