Life indeed is a sum of interactions with various people , family, co-workers, friends, acquaintances, people we meet for a second or those we spend a lifetime with as well as those we have never met but have such an influence on our lives. Harmonious living ( I reckon, a total utopia) demands a lot of efforts & the people who lift us, carry us , without being necessarily family members are our friends. A cousin is family but doesn’t have to be your friend. The beauty of friendship lies in the free choice, the natural attraction & genuine togetherness. Some tell me I have too many friends, but is there anything as too many when it comes to giving & taking love, attention , on a free basis. I tried to scrutinize my various friendships throughout my life path & it taught me a lot about myself. These are the rules I either wished some people had used with me or even that I could have made use of myself with some people I might have disappointed somehow ( striving for perfection in a not-so-perfect world is one of the greatest phobia of human beings).
1- Love : not the kind of family love but one that transcends blood & sex. That feeling you have for another who just brings out the best in you & also seems to be always there for you emotionally. Just because you crossed each other’s path. I am sorry some people are unworthy of it but I wonder why I keep insisting …
2- Care : yes friends care about each other & show it: how are you? I missed you. How are you coping? Family assumes you care, but friends need to know you do in facts. Guys I love you all but I am an emotional mess sometimes…
3- Appreciation, it’s not about being flattery or fake but whenever you think “ wall Done Zahra” voice it up so she can enjoy it. There is nothing wrong with appreciating your friend’s dress, beauty or achievements. Genuinely. It kills envy & it’s always rewarding to be friend with good people. To be used moderately between men & women sometimes –depending on the level of exposure of the Lady or man in front of you-… My friends are brilliant & beautiful –Masha Allah & I am proud to have them in my life.
4- Gratitude: stay with you when you are heartbroken, listen to your broken record failed love story, lend you some money, keep your kids when you are away, call your mother to check on her,… so many little gestures a friend does for us. And sometimes we just take it for granted or we procrastinate the gratitude moment & we appear ungrateful –I am guilty of that one-; Forgive me Pat I will never forget what you did for me…
5- Communicate clearly & this implies talking & listening to your friends. Some people want you to listen their problems without even having an ounce of compassion about your own stories. There is also the friend who always listens to your deepest secrets without ever sharing the slightest secret with you. There must be a balance in communication. Like everything else it is not easy to achieve but some friends are worth the effort.
6- The One to One principle: if you love groups of girls “Sex & the City” style or “Desperate Housewife” type, be careful, it is not always as glamourous in real life & the risks are gossip, backbiting, imbalance, etc. And it is not everybody that likes mixing up with half of the planet.. And rememberin case of group friendship, never talk about those who are not around if you know you won’t feel brave enough face to face. So you either STFUP (shut the F… up) or you take a stand. Capisci?
7- Straightforwardness is key . If you are lucky enough to be diplomatic use & abuse of it. If like me you just say it as it is, make sure you will be able to deal with it is your turn. But don’t compromise with the truth. If the dress is ugly, the hair color, even though trendy makes your friend look like a monster, or she has given up on her weight management issues. Tell your friend. If you care.
8- The art of sharing or how to give & receive without expecting the same. My mistake was often to say : “ after all I have done for so & so…” wrong approach madam Nabou! You did it because it was your friend & you were happy to do it then. It was not a deposit at the bank you expect to retrieve some day. Karma is awesome & anything good you do sincerely comes back to you either way. Also if a friend decides to spoil you with a present , it is just because they care & love you & want to make you happy as simple as that: no hidden agenda. If it’s not the case review your list of friends asap. A big sister’s advice.
9- Reciprocate : Ok it’s not because friendship is free that you are not obliged to reciprocate in a way or another. Don’t be nacissico-selfish & learn to reciprocate & it is not only about gifts & goods.
10- Law of silence is most definitely the hardest for us women to respect. We have big mouth we love exchanging gist. But a friends’ secret is NOT a gist. In no way. Also be discreet about what you report to a friend about another friends’ discussion with you. JUST KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT. You don’t have to tell your mother, your sisters & brothers or your Man or Woman. It is between the 2 of you. Then keep it that way. Unless your friend is addicted to Cocaine or has been raped or is planning to commit a crime or suicide…Only in case of life threatening EMERGENCY.
11- Acceptance: since I discovered that nobody’s perfect , it has change my world. Everybody didn’t have your background, education or parents so if you decide to be friend with someone accept his or her flaws. I hate people who misspell French & I used to be horrified by them until I got the greatest advices from someone who knew little French but with great wisdom. I have all sorts of friends (my sisters & my mum can testify to that) just because I learnt to accept that if someone is a gossip I don’t have to share a secret with her. Or if someone is sensitive about some issues , I will be careful. Acceptance is about character management. If a friend doesn’t reply to your mail or a phone call , in fact it’s not because he/she doesn’t care…so give the benefit of the doubts to your people.
12- Tolerance IMPLIES a lot more than acceptance since you have to try to be non judgmental: your friend is getting married to a womanizer, or becoming the 3rd wife of a bad boy, or she made the wrong choices & comes to you for a supportive ear and all she gets is : “I told you”. Once again this is life, not Alice in Wonderland. We all have our fair share of mistakes & bad choices.
13- Reliability: “lean on me it won’t be long til am gonna need somebody to lean on” … I love that song because it says it all. So be a supportive, & reliable friend try as much as you can to do what you say. Be there through thick & thin.
14- Forgive me please. I lied . You lied. I forgot your birthday. I told your secret (innocently done only forgivable though), I criticized your husband or wife, etc. etc. FORGIVENESS of friends’ minor sins will only make your bond stronger.
15- Respect each other’s limits. Even twins have their own lives (as a mother of twins I know what I am talking about ) . So don’t push too far, respect each other’s privacy, little secrets, silences & absence…
And I believe these simple rules (fruit of my own experience) should help us in our overall interactions with others. Please forgive me I didn’t expect it to be so long.
“Be Empowered Because you are powerful”