Friends are the family you get to choose; they are the people who influence you, help you grow, and share endless memories with you throughout your life. They are people who become your home away from home, your other support system when your family seems far away. Some friends stay with you for a long time, from high school to adulthood, while other friends come and go; however, I strongly believe that everyone comes into your life for a reason, everyone you meet teaches you some sort of lesson. Friends are important, but finding true friends, people who genuinely and truly care about your wellbeing, are not always easy to find.
True friends are the ones whose bonds last a lifetime. They are the friends who become your soul mates and future bridesmaids. They are the ones who stay with you in your heart, even when you are physically far away. As someone who has met many people, who have let fake friends go and has found friendships in unexpected places, there are four things that I believe in my heart a true friend will always be:
1. They will be loyal.Giphy
True friends, best friends, are the people who are going to stand by your side, no matter what. They are still going to be there after you have a mental breakdown; they are still going to be there after you come back from needing space. They are the people who are loyal to you, who have your back, especially when you are not there. True friends protect your reputation. If someone is being rude, unkind, or spreading lies behind your back, your true friends are going to be the people who step up and speak out even when you're not around.
Of course, it's almost impossible to know who stands up for you when you aren't around (as obviously, you are not there to witness it), but by observing them with their other friends you should at least get a basic understanding of their character. Do they say horrible things behind their other "friends'" backs to you? If so, who's to say they don't say those unkind things about you to someone else? True friends will speak out against lies and rumors said about you; they will be loyal to you even when others make it difficult to say something. They will be loyal even in instances where speaking out may result in their own unfair judgment.
2. They will be supportive and understanding.Giphy
Your best friends are going to be your family away from home; your support system to vent to, to cry to, and to laugh. They should be people who encourage you to follow your dreams and to reach your goals, in whatever capacity that is. True friends are the people who are going to encourage you to do what is best for you and your future, in whatever way that means. If a situation comes up and you need to either study for an important exam the next day or go out that night with them, true friends are the ones who encourage you to stay in and study.
There will always be another opportunity to go out and have fun, but if they encourage you to miss schoolwork and disregard your responsibilities for a night of "fun" then they are not the people you should surround yourself with. True friends will support you with your dreams and be understanding when you have to stay in to study. They are people who would never put your future in jeopardy or put you in harm's way.
3. But they should also be challenging.Giphy
Supportive friends are important, but they should also push you when you don't push yourself. If your dream is to be an actor or actress, and you're too nervous, scared, or unsure about an audition, a true friend is the one who makes sure you show up. They are the people who challenge you when you can't or are unable to challenge yourself. They are the people who urge you to do better and to be better. They should push you to your goals and they should push you to grow as an individual.
Support is important, however, if that support is one which encourages you to chicken out or says that it's okay to not try, then that is a kind of support that truly isn't helpful or beneficial for you. Your true friends are the ones who make sure you show up, who make sure you study and encourage you to not just do 'okay', but to do your best. They are the ones who know what you're capable of and remind you every time you forget.
4. They should be honest with you, even when you don’t see eye to eye.Giphy
True friends, the people who actually care about you, are the ones who will be brutally honest with you. They are the ones who will say the words you don't necessarily want to hear but need to hear. It's great to have friends that are kind, but if they are too nice to tell you that you have food in your teeth, that you're dress happens to be a little too short, or that your reaction to something is completely ridiculous, then who else is going to say those things?
True friends are the ones who are not afraid to be honest with you even when they know you may not agree; they are not afraid to deal with some arguments or conflict. Best friends should be the people who give you their honest advice, bring up their concerns with you when they observe something, and communicate how they feel. You don't have to agree with everything your friend does because someone who just tells you what you want to hear is not someone who will push you, and they may even be someone who uses you. It's important to have true friends who are honest, because why would you want friends that lie to you?
True friends, the ones who will last a lifetime and the ones you are scared to lose, are not always easy to find. People come and go, but true friends will always be there for you, even when they are not physically there. Loyalty is important; true friends are the ones who always have your back, especially when you're not there. They are supportive of your dreams and understanding of your other commitments. True friends push you when you don't push yourself and they are always honest with you. If your best friend isn't these things, then maybe you need to reflect on how they benefit you. I'm not saying to drop everyone who doesn't fit these four things, but to seek out and find true friends who do because once you find a true friend never let them go.