The Essence of Life

Friends are the essence of everything that’s good in life.

There was a time in my life when I’d given up on the concept of friendship altogether. I’d just been cheated by someone I thought was a friend and not only did I feel betrayed, hurt and heart-broken, I also figured that I could do without friends, at least I wouldn’t ever have to go through the pain of losing someone I loved ever again. Needless to say, my persistence to make it in this world without any friends didn’t last for very long since my two best friends knocked some sense into me and I quickly realised that having friends just comes with a healthy portion of love and pain. One doesn’t work without the other and while I have since made new friends and lost some old ones I’d like to think that I’ve become smarter, more sensible, and appreciative of those near and dear to me.

With the right friend by your side you feel invincible, you don’t think twice about taking on the world and someone life is just that little bit more colourful. Having a friend around is like perpetually wearing a life jacket, the feeling of having someone in your corner is exhilarating, addicting even. I wouldn’t ever want to be without a friend, what a lonely life that would be. If I could go back in time to talk to that heartbroken girl, who once thought she’d be able to go through life without a single friend, I’d tell her that one day she’d have some really amazing friends at her side, supporting her through thick and thin.

It seems across the world, there are different definitions for “friendship” and there seems to be a new trend that we look for friends who can give us an advantage in life, who can help us in some way and do as a favour. I’m not a fan of those kind of friendships or people who want to be friends with me for the sole purpose of asking me for a favour one day. I’m the type of gal who carries her heart on her sleeve and I welcome friends, new and old alike, with welcoming arms. Although, I have to admit, as I’m getting older, and especially since I turned 30, I care more about the friends I already have and less about making new ones. I mean I still make new friends but it takes me longer to get to the same degree of familiarity as maybe five or six years ago.

Over the course of our lives we all make friends who are more acquaintances than actual friends and their sole purpose in our circle of friends is to make our lives that little bit more comfortable, that little bit more convenient but true friendship can never be based on a “you help me, I help you” model. Favours among friends should be unconditional, without having to be repaid or returned. A friendship based on favours is no friendship at all, but merely a mutual partnership. Over the last few years I’ve come to the conclusion that many friendships in China are designed on the favour-model and I had to learn the hard way to distinguish between real friends and those who are just after my skills. A few of those lessons have been quite painful and it has made me wary of making friends. Instead of reaching out, I have found myself pulling away, afraid of asking for help, afraid to “owe” someone a favour. I’ve even gone as far as being blatantly honest and asking people outright what their are after: unconditional friendship or a partnership consisting of favours. Needless to say, in terms of networking skills, that leaves a lot to be desired for but there are only so many favours you can do for people before you turn into a shallow version of yourself, content with platonic relations without any depth or real meaning. I for one enjoy the occasional heated argument or that well-deserved reprimand only a good friend will be bothered to invest time in. The feeling of knowing that someone truly cares about you, worries even, is one that makes your heart beat that little bit faster. That friendly face that can make you smile when you actually feel like crying, the friend who knows that a cup of coffee makes it all better and that guy who will always be honest with you, even when you really don’t want to hear it. That one person who can share everything with, and the girl who knows everything there is to know about you... She’s the one who can smell your bluff from a mile a way.

Friends are an assortment of colourful gems, to be treasured, loved and valued above all, they are the family you choose to surround yourself with when you’re away from your family. There is nothing quite as special as a good friend.