Valentine’s Day is fast approaching (though it will be over by the time you answer this question). Spoiler alert: I will not have a date. I’m totally fine with that, but the nature of this special day caused me to evaluate the relationships that I have with my friends and family. My question is this: how does one create meaningful relationships with others? We all have friends that we hang out with because they are fun to be around. I’m just not sure that these people will always be there when I need them.
Hypothetical: If I become moody and insecure, will my friends start ignoring me? Some background information: Have I ever asked my friends this? No. Will I ever talk to them about my insecurities? Probably not. I’m just wondering what your thoughts on the authenticity of high school friendships are. I’m hoping it will help me to choose my relationships more wisely in the future.
DEAR FOREVER ALONE,
Spoiler alert: you’re not forever alone. It already sounds that you have many people you can surround yourself with—though they may not all be genuine—so maybe I can help you change that. We all seek relationships because we each need meaning in one form or another—and what you seek in one relationship can differ from the next.
You’re currently looking for some companions that are ”genuine” to you. I say that in quotation marks because it’s entirely subjective what that means, because you have to define what is genuine in a relationship and what is not. Here are some things that I believe genuine relationships contain, and hopefully you will find something that resonates with your definition of genuine.
Having a genuine relationship can mean connecting on deep levels with other people. Finding depth in another person’s character can be tough, because too often, people put up an exterior that is more superficial than we are at our core.
There’s nothing wrong with superficial relationships, they just can sometimes be unsatisfying because you may never really discover the depth of the person you are talking to if all you talk about are TV shows or impersonal gossip.
There’s a depth to each person’s character that is usually never revealed unless they’re able to be vulnerable and open with you. And that’s not something that you can force, it develops if you spend your time with people that you just click with – maybe you have something in common like a belief, sense of humor or shared experience, but whatever it is, if you simply enjoy being around this person.
These are the people that you should be spending your time with, and really getting to know on a deeper level.
Sometimes what we find most genuine are relationships that give us a purpose: they make us want to become better people, in some sense of the word. They give us a cause to change for the better, push us to do things that we like and/or help us develop interests and passions. They help us see some sort of goal, abstract or tangible. To find people that give you purpose, try seeking them in your extracurriculars: projects, sports, hobbies, etc. They’ll be the person to push you to excel at this certain thing you pursue, since they’re here with you and can relate to your interests.
Pure kindness can be the most genuine thing in some relationships. It sometimes seems like kindness is vanishing, as it’s hard to find when most people are seeming very selfish and to be having their own one-track-minds. It’s worse in high school, when a lot of your relationships are based on ease, fun and convenience – it can be uncommon to find someone who is there for you, in your corner and offering emotional support. Kindness is almost never random, so stumbling upon it can seem rare. This will be rare your entire life, as it’s human nature to pursue the most simplistic path towards any goal, and authentic kindness is anything but simple. You can start with trying to be kind to yourself – taking care of yourself and your needs, before taking care of others, and then try to be kind to others. When you do this, the other person will more likely than not reciprocate kindness and doors can be opened for meaningful relationships.
All in all, genuine relationships are relationships that are meaningful to you. Whatever you find meaning in, whether it be something I mentioned above or something entirely different – pursue it. It’s what is important to you, not what other people think. I truly hope that your friends would be there for you through your ups and downs – because if they can’t handle you when you’re at your worst, they don’t deserve you at your best. That turns into draining you and using you, when relationships are meant to go both ways. I can’t say for certain what kind of people your current friends are, but regardless, you should be spending time with the ones that you feel are meaningful to you at this point in your life. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having “surface-level” friends, they can definitely be people that make you feel genuinely happy, but make sure that you connect with people that will be there for you no matter what, because they know you and you could tell them anything and they will be there with you to get through it all. At the end of the day, you’re choosing the people you surround yourself with, so choose the ones that bring meaning to your life in the present!