The concept of friendship is one that is continuously redefined as an individual evolves, so to assign a definition would not only be foolish on my part, but extremely limiting as well. In friendship, some of us desire quality, quantity or both; and while some of us are indifferent towards the disposition, others are simply uninterested, which is all right. At the very opposite end of that spectrum, are those who look at it as a form of community, those who turn friends into family, and those who form sisterhoods and brotherhoods through their friendships. So when it comes to friendship, can quality outweigh quantity? How can friendship nurture an individual’s growth? And how do we dispose of the friendships that don’t?
I believe that in most areas of life, quality outweighs quantity. However, some prefer friends that are lacking than none at all, so if you’ve garnered satisfying friendships of just quantity, then by all means. When gauging friendships of quality or quantity, I don’t think it’s impossible to have both. But I want to emphasize the fact that genuine people are really hard to come by, so when the universe places wholesome individuals in your life, I suggest you cherish them. If the universe permits, you’ll get an opportunity to build lasting friendships with these people. In these friendships, there’ll be comfort in knowing that you can disclose the real self in all of it’s glorious vulnerability, and unpack without feeling weak. I also think that the best kinds of friendships, the ones that flawlessly outweigh quantity, are those that are well rounded. The idea of a “well rounded friendship” however, varies depending on the individual. For me, the most significant component of a well-rounded friendship is the ability to find community.
On page 133 in Bell Hooks’ “All About love”, she states, “…the other place where children in particular have the opportunity to build community and know love is in friendship. Since we choose our friends, many of us, from childhood on into our adulthood, have looked to friends for the care, respect, knowledge and all around nurturance of our growth that we did not find in family.” I thought this was so profound because friendship is where I’m still learning about love and most importantly, the balance between autonomy and dependency. I used to think vulnerability and dependency were weaknesses and that true strength lay within independence and the absence of emotions. However, through friendship, I learned that while there are advantages to being self-reliant, there’s also need for openness and stillness. I also found a community that sees me, and is still patient and understanding; something I’m still learning to be with myself. I’ve formed a sisterhood with women who inspire my growth in many ways; expanding my knowledge and encouraging me to critique my preexisting beliefs.
For many, growth is just a word, something that plants do- it’s physical. For some, growth is internal, emotional, mental and continuous. Wherever you are on that scale, the idea of “outgrowing” another, remains a simple theory, so logically it’s understandable how one could outgrow a lover or a friend. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as some don’t even know that there is growth to be made so they are faultless in that aspect, and also who are we to measure another’s growth? Is growth even measurable? And how do we know that we have in fact outgrown another? It’s all very subjective. But running with my own theory, I’ve come to observe that continuing a friendship that doesn’t nurture your growth ultimately deters it.
While some friendships are worth fighting for, others are simply not. However, this is up to the individual to discern and it will involve thorough analysis of you, the friend, and your relationship. In most cases, silencing the ego and the dilution of pride is imperative. Also, learning the art of self-reflection and accountability will contribute significantly, not only to the development of his/her relationships, but to an individual’s growth as well. I still think it’s necessary to root for these friends, as it’ll place you somewhere between preserving and disposing of those relationships; at a place where they have little to no effect on your growth as an individual, but where you can also support them in whatever way is conducive. Subsequently, it induces you to appreciate quality friendships.
These quality friendships will consist of individuals who’ll show up physically, mentally, and emotionally. You’ll find peace, silence, and acceptance in the space you share. And when your palms are still healing from the last time you pieced yourself together, your friends will offer their palms instead. When your feet are too heavy to walk those dark paths; with a candle in hand, they’ll walk for you. Being there might be something as miniscule as bringing a beef patty and cocoa bread from your favorite Jamaican spot or it might be as heavy as whatever holds the most gravity to you, but they will show up. And when you go back to thinking that you are the most self-reliant being, their company becomes more worthwhile than your own solitude. In my case, when melancholy came at 3am, I decided to write, not about hard times or heartache, but about friendship. It heals too. In each of my friendships, at some point I’ve been a student and a teacher, and for all that I have learned, I bow deeply in gratitude.
So when you reanalyze your friendships, does quality outweigh quantity? Are you still indifferent?
By: Bianca Onwukwe
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