1. 'Go for it.'
We tell our loved ones to 'just go for it!' for two reasons. Firstly, because we believe in them, and we believe that they have what it takes to do whatever we're encouraging them to 'go for'. Secondly, because we can live vicariously through them if their venture goes successfully, and detach ourselves from the situation if it doesn't. We tell our friends to go for it, but never actually go for it ourselves, because we are terrified of failing. However, as Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho puts it, 'there is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure'. Simply put, we should take our own advice because yes, maybe we will try and we will fail, but that's okay, because we can keep on trying, keep on putting ourselves out there, and keep on 'going for it'. Never trying might mean never failing, but it also means never achieving.
2. 'Be Yourself.'
Of course we tell our friends to be themselves. We love them as they are, and we don't understand why anybody else wouldn't. Their imperfections are what make them them, and whether it's around other friends, their family, new acquaintances, or potential boo, we hate to see them do themselves a disservice by pretending to be somebody else. And yet, the moment we are given the opportunity to be ourselves, we suddenly change into these eager-to-please, "wow yeah, I love competitive Frisbee, tell me more", messes. This shouldn't be the case - we love our friends enough that we don't want them to change, and since that is clearly reciprocated by them, we shouldn't change ourselves either. If you need any further convincing of why it's important to be honest about who you are, I present below the greatest television advertisement to ever come out of Britain. You're welcome.
3. 'They aren't worth it.'
To quote Justin Long in the (vastly underrated) 2009 rom-com He's Just Not That Into You, 'if a guy is treating you like he doesn't give a shit, he genuinely doesn't give a shit'. And while we're very good at identifying people who fall into this category when it comes to our friends' love lives, we're less adept - or even, perhaps less willing - to identify them in our own. We make excuses for them, ('they're just busy', 'maybe they haven't checked their Facebook', 'When they do reply they're really sweet'), or we put ourselves down, ('they're way out of my league anyway', 'I'm too ugly/stupid/uninteresting for them', 'I said the wrong thing'), when really we should just be acknowledging that if somebody was really worth your time? They would put in the effort to be part of your time. If you feel like you are always the person starting the conversation? Always the person arranging the dates? Cool it for a while, and see what happens. Maybe they are the right person for you - and if so, they'll realize what they're missing right then, and they'll start to make an effort to be part of your life. If they don't? They're just not that interested, and as hard as it is to do so, (believe me, I know), it's time to let them go, and move on.
4. 'Make time for yourself.'
A common trend, when I asked around my own friendship group for contributions for this article, there is a strong consensus that one of the go-to pieces of advice we give to stressed out friends - friends, get it?! - is to light a little candle, play a little Enya, and just generally have a little 'me time'. We know that our friends don't want to, and shouldn't have to, constantly be worrying about other people, but despite this, can sometimes feel the need to be the perpetual parent of the group. Repeat after me: this isn't functional. We all need time to decompress, and the stress that we relieve in doing so will allow us to be a better, more present friend in the long run.
5. ...But also, 'Make time for your friends.'
It sounds contradictory, but it's pretty simple. We like to give advice. Even if we don't feel we're particularly good at helping people through their problems, we generally love to try. Because it makes up happy to feel like we've helped other people, even if only a little bit. We know that what for us can be just a few minutes of hearing a friend vent, can be all it takes to for their day to improve infinitesimally. Likewise, we know that sometimes it takes a little bit more than that, and we want to point them in the right direction, to the right people, so they can get the right help. Often, however, we are noticeably less keen to be the crier than we are to provide the shoulder they cry on, which is super sad. Friendships are reciprocal, and keeping your friends in the loop, to let them know that you're struggling with something, will not only help you - because things always feel at least marginally better once you've spoken about them - but provides context for any changes in behavior that might occur as a result. If I'm going through a period of particularly bad depression, I will tell my flatmates. They know to look out for me, and they also know that it's not through sheer ignorance that I'm being uncommunicative. Even if you are in a situation where you feel that talking to people is the last thing you want to do, don't let it go on for days. Make time for your friends.
6. 'Things will get better.'
I say it all the time to friends, and I truly mean it when I say it, and have genuine faith that their situation, whatever it may be, is going to improve. Then, I am mildly inconvenienced in some way or another, and my brain goes into full doomsday-mode. I'm talking choosing the song that will be played at my funeral, writing out my will, I-know-I-always-joke-about-ending-my-miserable-existence-but-I-take-it-back-now mode. When that happens, it can be pretty irritating having a much too soothing voice trying to console you with 'it will be alright, things will get better', but it's important to remember that you say the same thing to them, and they're not buried yet.
7. 'Drink more water/get more sleep.'
On a less pastoral and more practical note, our frequent advice whenever friends are feeling even a little bit under the weather is to stay hydrated, and to get more sleep. I say this, myself, the moment any of my flatmates mention feeling a little off. And yet, hours after I'm done foisting water bottles on them, and practically tucking them into bed, I'll be in my own bed, surrounded by empty coffee cups, scrolling through Instagram at 4 o'clock in the morning. It would almost be laughable if it wasn't my actual lived reality.
8. 'You look fine.'
This is possibly the most relevant for myself. I know that my friends are genuinely feeling self-conscious when they ask me if they look okay, and I know that I am being honest when I tell them how banging they look on a 24/7 basis, and yet when the roles are reversed, I struggle to get away from the idea that I'm more self conscious than they have been, and that they are simply telling little white lies. This is still something I'm struggling with, but one thing I've found sometimes helps is to look at the outfit you're wearing, or the way you've styled your hair, or the way you've done your makeup, as if it is actually being worn/styled/done by a friend. Imagine how you would tell them that they're looking great, and apply that to yourself.
9. 'I love you.'
Self-explanatory. Let your friends shower you in love, and do the same to them. You've got this.