I read this article in Sunday’s NY Times titled How to Be a Friend in Deed, and it really resonated with me. The article talks about how old-fashioned modes of friendship can be lifesavers for friends in need. Instead of the more tech/social media communication like texts, emojis, sympathy wall posts, and emails – the author advocates for being present with your friends. Showing up. Casseroles. Taking them to drinks unprompted.
The author, Bruce Feiler, talks about how we sometimes we:
“succumb to the drive-by badges of contemporary friendship — a “like,” an emoji, a hashtag (#JeSuisThinkingofYou). What if you don’t believe all those platitudes: “Love ya! You’ll get through it! Everything happens for a reason!”
He goes on to talk about how sometimes, when our friends are suffering, we have a tendency to shift the obligation to them instead of initiating. We tell them that if they need anything, they should reach out. I’m sad to admit I’m guilty of this! My emails, texts or voicemails to a friend in need have sometimes included a line like this: “Let me know if you need anything” or “If you want to get together, let me know!”
I should really know better! When it’s me dealing with a crisis or feeling particularly down, I rarely ask for help. I don’t want my friends to think I’m a sad sack so I tend to stew quietly alone until I feel at least a little better. BUT, when someone does break that barrier, it feels amazing. I feel this rush of gratefulness.
As we move into our thirties, hard life stuff happens with more regularity. Job loss, parental illness, death of friends and family, financial struggle and all of those tragic things that come with being an adult.
So I found this article to be a great reminder that our physical presence – even just a phone call – can make all the difference in the world to someone struggling.
The article is definitely worth a read. I especially loved this part of the article:
Alain de Botton, the best-selling author of many books, including “Art as Therapy,” told me that he was once deeply worried about “a mess I was in with the media.” “A friend of mine did the best thing,” he said. “Rather than say everything would be O.K., he said quite simply: ‘I will like you if I’m the last person to do so. There’s nothing you can do to put me off you. You’re stuck with me for life. You may hate yourself, and the world may, too; but I won’t follow suit.’ ”
How beautiful is that? If that’s not friendship, I’m not sure what is. I know that I’m going to try harder to be a better friend. To be present for the people I love. How about you?