Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Can I be your friend?

They say that you find out who your true friends are in times of trouble. Those who stick by you, tell you if you are right or wrong and give you the support you need are the friends who stay. Then there are those who just find any old excuse to walk away from you when the circumstances surrounding your temporary relationship evaporate. Those are the acquaintances. So the question then becomes how do you know your friends from your acquaintances? How do you know who has the potential to be a good source of support and sharing from those who you just happen to stumble across and interact with sporadically? If one is not in a situation that should raise concern and you go about your life in the usual manner, how do you know that the person whom you greet every morning is a good potential friend or not.

It is quite hard I must admit. I have always seemed to fall into the trap of being overly friendly with people, finding myself in a mildly dire situation then finding only one or two (if I am lucky) who remain. The rest? Dispersed, before you even had the chance to ponder. Then I fall into that other trap of being a bit overly cautious. It manifests itself in just being civil but not to the extent of sharing how I spent my previous evening or what I will cook for dinner tonight let alone my plans for the next holiday or year. Yet that was not good enough either. I would find with that approach that I would miss out on some good relationships. It was the fear of disappointment kicking in and of not quite living up to mutual expectations from knowing someone.

What is the answer then? A test. Throwing the net into the sea to see what fish emerge. No pressures and no misleading notions; just an openness and an attitude of take-it-or-leave-it. Those who take it are in; the punters who are indirectly saying, "I can be your friend too." Those who leave it, well, we know what that means.

If being overly friendly was just not good enough because it was too obliging and being overly cautious was being too risk averse, then find the middleman. Go the extreme and give out with no expectation of return and see what does come back. Be overly nice and give something. Throw it out in the sea. Genuineness and appreciation does plant the seed of friendship after all. Brushing aside and just ignoring, on the other hand, go the other way. The results were quite amazing too. Those whom I would not even think of as friendship material surprised me. At the other end of the scale, those whom I was constantly making idle chatter with just did not return in favour. In the middle I found those who were genuine in their interactions and continued in confirmation. It was quite an eye-opener.

It seems that the world is full masks. I needed some sort of filtering mechanism to catch a glimpse of the faces behind the masks. To many who might read this, it would be bewildering to actually go through the trouble of doing so. Yet it is the fact that sincerity and genuineness is rare - it has always been. It seems that everyone is just out for themselves. How do these people build close and long-lasting relationships then if every interaction is either superficial or founded on benefits of some sort. How do these people relate to their family and loved ones. Perhaps it is just taken for granted or perhaps it is superficial too. I cannot explain it or even comprehend it because for others, myself included, relationships are all about sincerity and creating a genuine human bond. 

The playground question that one used to innocently ask someone as a child - can I be your friend. Well, that does not seem to exist in the world of adults in the same straightforward manner. At times, I wonder whether it still exists today in the playground that I once used to know back then.

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