As I had conversations with friends over the holidays and reconnected with people who I don't see every day, I began thinking more and more about what it means to be a good friend. Most of my friends and myself are in our mid-twenties and just on the brink of discovering what it means to truly enter adulthood. Though being in your twenties is exciting, it comes with quite a bit of uncertainty.
Though I am in the midst of my twenties, I believe you experience the lowest lows and highest highs in your relationships. In those times, it is important to cling to a solid community. Your friends become your rocks. I am by no means a perfect friend and I fall short of the friend I would like to be over and over again, but I think there are some ways in which we can simply love each other better.
1. Take the time to listen and understand your friend's perspectives.
You may level with your friends on a lot of beliefs, ideas, and values. That's great. Even if you don't, that can be beneficial too. I think it's important to constantly evaluate what you believe and why you believe it. Having conversations with friends that validate and challenge those ideas can be so rewarding. I find the best conversations I have with friends are the ones in which we are just trying to understand the world around us and life.
2. Take a genuine interest in your friends' dreams.
People have goals and things they want to achieve. Those goals and ambitions can be private sometimes, so when they're revealed its important as a friend to validate those dreams. It's also important to give honest feedback when friends seek advice. Surround yourself with friends that have your best interests at heart.
3. Learn your love language. More importantly - learn your friends' love languages.
How do you best show love? Is it through quality time? Is it through providing acts of service or words of affirmation? How do your friends receive love best? Understanding what makes your friends feel loved is priceless. Keeping these things in mind will enable you to love your friends better and will deepen your relationships. Not sure what the love languages are? Check out "The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts" by Gary Chapman. While I believe the intent is meant for more romantic relationships, but these ideas can still translate to friendships.
4. Be intentional about getting to know who your friends are and what matters to them.
Knowing and remembering small details about your friends - like what their favorite book is - is the key to really understanding who they are.
5. Be open and honest with your friends.
Being your authentic self is the only way to be. There's no sense in being friends when you can't really be yourself.
6. Make plans together.
Basically, spend time together. Making future plans, from a small brunch to a major international trip shows that you find the relationship willing to invest in.
7. Acknowledge what your friends do for you.
Mostly, people just want to know that they are known. They want to know that what they do is important.
Friendships bring so much joy in life. They need nurture and care as much as any other important relationship. Without your friends, where would you be?