Watching a rerun of friends the other day, I realized why the sitcom was so popular. This episode has a friend of Monica and Phoebe letting it out that Phoebe was, at one time, trying to cut Monica out of her friends. When Monica asks her why, Phoebe tell her that she was, "controlling, compulsive and shrill". "But I am still all those things", shrills Monica. "But you are also generous, kind and scrappy" says Phoebe.
To me that conversation epitomises what friendship is all about. You may not like some of what your friend is / does, but you love them for the good qualities that matter more. There are things That matter in the long run and overshadow the smaller irritants that we may notice at first.
The younger you are, the more the superficial matters, but an adult you love your friends for the qualities that will never change, no matter how much their appearance changes. Very young friendships are mostly about convenience. You play with someone and you are friends. Of course you have your preferred friends, but as you are dependent on adults to take you places and decide what is 'good company' , it does not really count.
As teenagers, which is probably the earliest you take your own decisions about who is your friend and who is not, it is the first impressions. Maybe looks and confidence and how cool the person is, probably gadgets he/she owns.By the time you get to college, you are more sure about what you like in a person as you have tried and tested many relationships. You have bared your heart and have had confidences broken. You have shared secrets and even let some out . You have discovered your own self.. your style, your esteem, your confidence.
College is all about serious experimentation. You do know somewhat, who you'd like to share all the adventures with. The ones you want to follow or assist in their adventures. You do not tell tales and even if you disagree, you never tell the establishment. These are the friends you get into hairy situations like going for a trek and not having any money at the end to pay for the bus fare. These are the friends who share your dreams of making it big and the ones to who can bring you down to earth with one word that punctures that dream. The ones you share that forbidden drink and then some, wake up with hangovers knowing that no one will really hold you to all your drunken ramblings.The ones who play cupid and lookout for any 'pyaar ke dushman'.They are fiercely loyal and equally anti-establishment (meaning the older generation).
These friends are the ones you end up staying in touch with for a very long time. It does seem to fade a bit just as soon as you enter the work place as everyone gets busy with real life issues, like careers, spouses and children. However the chances are they will still support you via the stray conversations over the phone ( and now the Internet) It is from these people you begin to learn discernment. You learn to look beyond the obvious . Remember the friend who let slip that you did not do very well in the chemistry test even before you were ready to tell your parents. Even though you wanted to kick her at that point, you remembered how she had loaned you her best earrings, so you could look good for your latest crush.
You make friends all along the way but you make less as you go along. It may be the pressure at work or the stress of sleepless nights due to a newborn's crying, it could be the long commute to work and shopping for the vegetables that leave you little time to explore new relationships. It becomes even more important to cherish and nurture the relationships that already exist. With maturity comes the realisation that you have flaws that can be irritating if not worse. If there are those who can tolerate them, you too have to tolerate a few yourself. Friendships become more than just chemistry and partying.
With maturity you learn to examine friends as individuals rather than just a support system. You can admire one for the way for the caring father he has become, another for the way she deals with difficult in-laws, yet another for his patience with his juniors and someone for her expert juggling of career and family responsibilities.
One thing I know for sure is that time is teaching me to look at things in more detail and get a better overall view ( dos that even make sense?). Like Phoebe in friends, I may on occasion be tempted to sit in judgement and dismiss the actions of others, I am also aware that I should take a second look and think of all that I find positive.
Everyone, even you and I, deserve a second chance and the only one to give it to us, are FRIENDS!