On Friendship

On the 28th of February this essay was started. It is time to finish it. To devote an essay to friendship is not a simple task. Besides that there comes a time when you sit down and think about the people in your life. My dear friends, this essay is for you.

Friendship is one of the aspects of life I never quite understood. Friendship is an experience that combines many small things of life between you and someone else. There is no impersonal or complete rational way of reducing friendship to a number of factors. There is no fixed formula or equation. Maybe I am not sensitive enough for certain non-verbal signals. I mean I am a man and not a woman. In my experience women pick up more non-verbal signals. I mention this because often I fail to remember why I am friends with someone. I am the kind of person who likes someone or not. It is something some people have.

With that out-of-the-way onwards with the essay. This essay will be less rational as some experiences me with mixed feelings and impressions. If anything friendship is always (inter)personal and subjective. With my best friends quick eye contact is enough to confirm whether all is good or not. Over time I learnt to appreciate this.

Sense of humour is on the strange things in life that is impossible to define. What a person finds amusing depends on so many things that finding someone with a similar sense of humour is rare. One of my best friends, like me was an Anglophile with a passion for British comedy. We used to exchange Allo Allo and Monty Python quotes because British comedy was our shared passion. At one point we were watching Top Gear together enjoying all the banter. Whenever we meet we can simply sit and talk for hours. When an awkward silence looms quirky British comedy is always there.

Similar interests, think of hobbies or sports. One big advantage of being a nerd is that you easily recognise other nerds. One of my best friends is a nerd and beyond our efforts we ran into each other and we found out we basically had similar interests, still have to this day. He now finished his master and has a serious job and I ended up in hospitality but we still have our shared fascination for technology and wanting to learn more. Both of us will always be students at heart.

We simply liked each other. Sometimes you bump into each other say “hi” and it does not end there. This happened with one of my current best friends. We went to the same cafĂ© and we started talking. It turned out we were very different people but it did not matter. We liked each other enough to hang out and have drinks. Sometimes it seems that meeting people at the right place at the right time is a bigger factor than anything else. To this day this still surprises me.

Maintaining a friendship is the hardest part. You see it is almost too easy to say “hi”, follow-up with introductions and have some small talk. To take a friendly initiative from small talk to “we are friends” requires an effort. This effort is a matter of making time for each other, staying up to date and helping each other out. The maintenance pays off in the one of the best things ever: having someone out there you can always reach. The internet and social media cannot replace a true friendship.

If if was not for certain people in my life I would not have been able to write this essay. It is human to make mistakes and sometimes a person has to tell you to change. My best friends helped me to change in a world where second chances are scarce. There is one thing that needs to be clear now: a good friend is scarce, even invaluable.

I am grateful.