We all love music. Heck if you don’t then there is something wrong with you. Music acts as food for the soul rejuvenating it, filling it with energy and vitality. Music is fun, relaxing, motivating and energizing. However, how many of us sit down and take time to internalize the lyrics of songs they are jamming to apart from religious folks who have church screens displaying the lyrics as they sing hence get to understand. This weekend I got to sit back and read the lyrics of the jam “I took a pill in Ibiza”. It reminded me of the concept of friendship and what that means.
I believe in no man or woman is an island and to progress in this world you need a few confidants that you can speak to when things are thick and when they are thin. To me friendship is like a marriage, that’s why we say its best that you marry your friend. Just like marriage, friendships require you to commit, create time for them and evaluate whether they are working on not. Give it some key performance indicators to be evaluated on and review. Growing up I did not take time to create lasting friendships because the majority of those I believed were my friends fell in the category of circumstantial. These are friendships I formed with people from school or work, or as neighbours, but after the circumstances changed then it was difficult to maintain them.
A turning point for me came in 2012 when I had to admit myself in hospital for a heart condition that I did not know I had and discharged myself a week later with no one knowing I was actually in the hospital all that time. Being diagnosed with such a terminal illness with no one to speak to, gave me a wake-up call that I could die and no one would know. It took some deep search to understand the true meaning of friendship. Getting to a point where you look at yourself in the mirror and say to yourself, “I have no friends”, is never an easy journey. It’s one that demands brutal honesty from an individual, involving the evaluation of life you might not want to truly see.
The current COVID-19 pandemic has been an eye-opener to many on who to actually to call a friend and those you need to reevaluate. I have seen people sleep outside and say none of their friends picked their calls when they needed help the most. I have heard people go without food and resort to public social media groups to seek any help. Do you want to tell me these people did not have friends that they could call for assistance? Mike Posner in I took a pill in Ibiza illustrates a different dimension of a young guy with all the money but no friends. They resort to drugs as a way of hiding from the bitter truth. “You don't wanna be high like me, Never really knowing why like me, You don't ever wanna step off that roller coaster and be all alone, You don't wanna ride the bus like this, Never knowing who to trust like this, You don't wanna be stuck up on that stage singing, Stuck up on that stage singing”. With all the money and fame, he doesn’t want to leave like that where you don’t know who to trust or ride the bus with so you resort to other ways of numbing the reality that you are all alone. You don’t need friends because you are poor or rich. Friends are a support system. An essential component of existence. One that makes this tough life we live bearable.
There are four types of friendship styles discovered by a team of German psychologists, led by Martina Mich. First is the discerning friendship style where you have a few very close friends. Emotional closeness is high and the friendships tend to last a long time. We all want to be in this group. Second is the independent friendship style where the friends are often circumstantial because they were formed with people you know from school or work. We confuse a lot of these friends to be discerning and always end up disappointed. The third is the selectively acquisitive friendship style where you tend to have friendships of varied duration — some last decades; others are more fleeting and circumstantial.
My experience in 2012 taught me to keep my circle of friends smaller, tighter and build a deeper connection with them to a point when I needed help I would not hesitate to call them.
Selectively acquisitive people, however, are somewhat choosy about which friendships they maintain over long periods of time, as compared to unconditionally acquisitive people. Lastly, there is unconditionally acquisitive friendship style that has the highest number of people according to the research. Although the emotional closeness differs from friend to friend, it is, on average, relatively low in this group. There’s also a wide range of friendship duration in this group. Overall, this group is more about socializing than emotional support. The reason for it being the largest is we are accustomed to looking for social support as an immediate need. Where can we go for drinks this weekend, or can we go and have a night out in Naivasha? However, all of these crumbles when emotional support is needed. Which group do you fall in?
There are many reasons why one might have no friends. Think about the following, and ask yourself if any of these have affected your old or potential friendships:
Temperament: You are naturally uncomfortable or shy around new people, making them uncomfortable
Insecurity: You don’t feel like you offer enough to be a good friend to others
Preference: You are an introvert, and you simply prefer being alone most of the time
No Experience: You have never had to exercise your social skills much, so you don’t know how to act around people
Disabilities: Whether physical, mental, or psychological issues, you have something holding you back from participating in the world like most people
Communication Problems: Your intentions do not match how other people perceive them. You do not know how to communicate properly, making people wary or unsure about you
Time: You don’t have the time to build relationships that others value
Whatever the reason might be for not having friends, it isn’t necessarily as big a problem as the world might make you think. For some people, the lack of friends is simply a preference, and the ache to have people around us isn’t as noticeable. However, I would urge you to reconsider since no man or woman is an island. We will need people around us that we can depend on. Having more friends will never make you worth, having few friends who stand behind you in your success and stand in front of you against your problems only matters. Caroline Mutoko during one of the Engage Kenya sessions, talks about time, life and how they are not promised. At the end of the talk that was around a tragic experience she had with a close friend who she kept postponing meeting invites till there was no more time, she shares the greatest lesson learnt, which is to keep her circle smaller and tighter and make time to have a meaningful engagement. That’s the secret of keeping friendships for long. Making time to build them.
So whatever category you fall in the friendship styles, the most critical thing to remember is how important it is to maintain at least one or two quality relationships with friends whom you can call on when you need them. My experience in 2012 taught me to keep my circle of friends smaller, tighter and build a deeper connection with them to a point when I needed help I would not hesitate to call them.