How many times have I heard that phrase, posed as a joke? Im not really sure, but its usually said when someone falls short on a promise, or obligation, as a cop out! The meaning of the phrase falls back to an individual having the best of intentions, but poor execution, which is often received as even more endearing. It may happen when someone has a birthday. Instead of planning ahead and getting a cool gift, we hand them a gift card and tell our “friend” about the great gift we thought about getting for them. All they can do is smile at you, to which you respond with, “its the thought that counts, right?” There are times when this phrase remains relevant, like when you plan an extravagant date, but drop your keys in a storm drain and your phone is dead. Shit happens. Sometimes we can’t control enough variables to get the out come we are hoping for and its in these times that this phrase is needed. There is a difference, however, when the failed outcome is due to extraneous circumstances, or just plain apathy.
We all live busy lives. Daily life has evolved to the point that we all have to hustle, we all have to network and it doesn’t really matter what profession you practice. Generally, we all aspire to improve our lives, be it financially, or just socially, we all seem to have our head up looking for that next connection that can amplify the excitement or ease in our day to day. We all have hobbies, escapes or disciplines that we enjoy or use to spice things up. Simply because of this situation, being in the moment can be somewhat difficult, even if you are conscious of the phenomenon. Add to that our affinity to social media, the ability to mentally teleport to other locations or realities by getting lost in the small computer in our pocket and you get a society that struggles to make real connections.
I know I am young, but I can still remember a time when I knew all of my friends phone numbers by heart. I could stop at a pay phone or politely ask a nearby house to use their phone if I needed to get in touch with my buddies. I would usually end up talking to their parents, visiting for a moment before asking where my classmate was and if I could speak to him. You had a handful of “friends.” And not what we think as friends today, but people that knew who you were. They knew who you really were, not just what you showed them. They knew your family to some extent and most importantly, would come running when you were down. I don’t think the definition of “friend” has changed today, but we use the term far too loosely.
Nowadays, we have access to social media. We build ourselves up with false confidence based on hollow friends lists, as if it really meant anything. Half the time, when we do actually spend time with people in person, half of the individuals in the room are lost in cyberspace, while the other half are pretending to be something other than themselves. We have the luxury of jumping ship in a heart beat, if something doesn’t feel like an Instagram post. We aren’t forced to really get to know anyone anymore, or open up because we can always escape, into our phone, to another group, to new and oblivious friends.
It makes me sad, to be honest. So few people are honest with themselves, how can they possibly be honest with anyone else? You have all these people floating around the internet, living vicariously through the number of followers they have, pretending to be friendly so that they can get ahead in some way. It seems that everyone is working an angle, trying to step up their game, not necessarily at the cost of others, but they certainly don’t care about your well being. It seems to be all about, “what can this person do for me?”
Don’t get me wrong, I love the opportunity that social media provides and I’ve met some amazing people using it. What I want to stress, though, is that we have to make a conscious effort to invest love and attention into relationships, instead of just looking for one that is ready made perfect. That just doesn’t exist! All relationships require work and compromise, friends and lovers alike. Its part of getting to know one another while you enjoy the energy you each bring to the table.
Real relationships are not transactional!
There are no expectations, just appreciation and care for another individual trying to make life beautiful. Too much in the last few months I’ve encountered individuals that only have relationships based on what someone does for them. They wear this mask of kind friendship, when they really only want something from you. It can range from monetary gain, social status, or even self esteem because you make them feel good about themselves. They offer favors, help, and kindness. You know, all the things that a real friend would offer. Most of the time, these hollow pledges go unnoticed because we seldom require big favors, or favors at all, from others. These pretenders get to pat themselves on the back, feeling high and mighty, wearing a cloak of great kindness and generosity. They actually convince themselves they are good people because, “its the thought that counts, right?”
Sometimes, though, shit happens. This last year has been one of my absolute best and simultaneously one of the most trying years I’ve ever been through. I am not proud to admit that through the course of the year, I was forced to actually accept one of these great promises of kindness. Low and behold, this so called “friend” vanished, after so many lofty promises of assistance. A friendship I had for multiple years, evaporated over night because that person was a complete fallacy from the beginning. I didn’t realize what they were after until it was too late. They were gone and I was left feeling like an idiot.
This wasn’t the only instance where I lost a friend last year, in fact, it was a common occurrence. For some, they would take these experiences and become a cynic, blaming the world and everyone in it for their mistakes. I understand that I have to be more careful when choosing whom to trust. That doesn’t mean, however, that I will lose my faith in humanity, just that I must improve my vetting process. I only got into those situations because I chose to trust individuals that didn’t deserve it. Its my fault, but at the same time, I want to be the type of person that gives the benefit of the doubt. I want to be the type of friend that will say what I mean and mean what I say. When I tell you I’ve got your back, I follow through, even if it isn’t convenient. It may be out of my way, or cost me money, but the most important thing to have in life are good friends and strong relationships. To me, thats worth all of my time and effort.
My point with this little rant is simple. Be the type of friend that fosters good energy and happiness. You don’t have to be Robin Hood, you just have to be you. Be honest with what you will do for those around you and stick to your guns. You don’t get to feel like a caring person if you have no intention of actually following through with the favors you promise, so don’t offer something you are not willing to provide. When you pretend to be a friend, no phrase can make it right. You are breeding negative energy and stealing the trust and loving nature of those around you by replacing it with distrust and cynicism.
Real friendships still exist and behind a lover, are the most important things you can cultivate in life, but you have to be willing to put in the work. Going out of your way for another person is the true demonstration of caring, not picking up a gift card on the way to their birthday party. “The grass is greener where you water it.” Be the type of person that others revere because of your genuine nature. Put effort into your friends and show them you give a damn. This may mean that you can’t have a hundred close friends, but the ones that are your true friends shouldn’t have any doubt about that fact. Be a good friend because its the right thing to do, but also because living for others beyond yourself is the best way to find fulfillment and happiness. You better your world by being a true source of positivity. For those of you that understand this, keep it up. To those out there that spew bullshit to everyone you meet, you are the lowest form of scum that exists in the world. Worse than an enemy, you pretend to be someone’s friend until it is no longer convenient for you. Right when someone needs you to be there for them the most, which is what being a friend really means, you bail to find new friends that haven’t seen under your mask, yet.