What exactly is friendship, and do we even need it? In my article, “What is the purpose of life?” I stated that there is much meaning in discovering our light, maximizing our light, and letting it shine to the world. And in my article, “Making a difference” I made mention that we are biologically conditioned to interact with other people/another person. How do these two statements explain the necessity, or irrelevance, of friendship?
A friend is a person you like to associate with, because you derive comfort in doing so, because they aid you in achieving your life-goals, and you aid them in achieving their goals. This definition embraces the fact that our lives can be meaningful in this world, and also includes the fact that we have social needs; to love and be loved. Therefore, friendship is necessary, and for these five reasons.
Man is a social being
Although, you may be shy or confident, introverted or extroverted, popular or unpopular, you have social needs, just like everybody else; we all desire interpersonal relationships. And like our fellow primates (like monkeys, gorillas, etc.), ants, and even green grasses, we are colonial beings. The isolated life of a man in the quietest cave is also unimaginably miserable and largely unhealthy. Even an introvert wants to have at least one or two friends that he or she values and interacts with. Therefore, we have a natural desire for friendship.
Man wants to be celebrated and encouraged
We do not only desire the accomplishment of great things, but also want to be valued and celebrated because of them. We want some people to rejoice with us when we achieve success, and reassure us when we fail. It feels lonely achieving success without anyone to share it with, and experiencing failure without anyone to encourage us. More so, we want to be remembered by other people and be kept in touch with, simply because it means they value us; which is essential to our mental health. One way to know that you are not valued enough is to learn that you have been abandoned, because your friends no longer keep in touch with you.
Man wants to be assisted
Life is full of uncertainties, and there may be moments when we need somebody or some people to give us, perhaps, a bit of assistance in our academic challenges, personal struggles, financial troubles, or economic problems. Our friends are always there to help us when we need them. Without them, we may have to bear our shoulder-crushing burdens on our own. Other than the incredible amount of stress we may face while independently facing our problems, success may also not be guaranteed. Perhaps, if you had had one or two friends put you through in your academic work, you wouldn’t have had those poor grades.
Man wants to be comfortably authentic
Every man has imperfections, and every man has baggage. More so, we live in a very cruel universe, where those who have socially admired traits are accepted, commended, and recognized, while those who have socially unacceptable traits are shamed, rejected, and isolated. And since none of us is perfect, many of us have a mixture of acceptable traits and socially unacceptable ones. Revealing our unacceptable traits puts us at grave disadvantage, and makes us vulnerable. But hiding this part of us (those things we don’t want others to know about us), by pretending that we don’t have them, can be quite mentally stressful and emotionally unsettling. For this reason, we crave to be around people who accept us for who we are, warts and all, and allow us to be authentic without rejecting, exposing, or shaming us.
Man wants to be challenged
Ambitious people want to be around people who bring out the best in them. They want to be inspired by people who make them feel that they, too, can accomplish great things. In other words, they need vibrant forces that will drive them towards the accomplishment of great things. In their quest to be successful, they also want the same for their friends, and are therefore inspired to do greater things as they see their friends accomplish great goals. Their perseverance and industry are also admirable qualities that their friends may adopt and practice to live a far more fulfilling life. As friends, they challenge one another, bringing out the best in one another.