I don’t become friends with people very often. I have many acquaintances and people I know, but many of them I never hang out with. I know a lot of people on the basis of being in the same place at the same time — in class, the climbing gym, a coffee shop and even at The Argonaut.
There are many types of friends. I’m talking about the type of friend you always want to hang out with. The kind of friend you always have fun with while growing and learning together — what many call a true friend. The writer and civil rights activist, Dr. Maya Angelou, described this perfectly.
“There’s a marked difference between acquaintances and friends. Most people really don’t become friends. They become deep and serious acquaintances. But in a friendship you get to know the spirit of another person, and your values coincide … A friend will stand for you when you are no longer able,” Angelou said.
Maybe I don’t gain new friendships very often because I haven’t been making room for a new friend. Because friendship takes effort on both sides — each person involved in the friendship has to want to become friends and stay friends. I recently realized that I wasn’t putting much effort into cultivating new friendships.
Then, all the sudden, I made a new friend a few weeks ago. It happened suddenly and unexpectedly. I decided to take a chance and put effort into it. For the first time in a while, I experienced the joy of getting to know someone as a friend.
I discovered allowing a new friend into your life is always worth it. And sometimes we just need to make room in our lives and hearts for a new friend.
Some people might not want any more friends. They might feel completely satisfied with their current circle of friends, and that is OK.
We don’t have the ability or capacity to be friends with everyone. There aren’t enough days in a year and there isn’t enough emotional space in our hearts or minds. People only have the capacity for a limited number of friends.
I think it’s important to value and appreciate each friendship for what it is, even if it’s just an acquaintance or classmate — they are still part of our lives and significant in their own ways.
But there is something special about having a true friend.
Finding and gaining a new friend takes vulnerability, and in being vulnerable, we reach for our greatest need while risking pain. It’s not easy to open up, because we might get hurt. It’s much easier to keep a distance from people. True friendship, however, can never form at a distance.
The only way to have a true friend is to be one — it starts with you. Sometimes, you have to be the first one to initiate the friendship.
A new friend brings a new perspective, and chance to know and be known by another human.Think about making a little room for a new friend. It might be a wonderful thing.
Andrew Brand can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org