The other night some friends and I sat around our kitchen table before heading out for the night. Somwhere between cheering on vodka shots and catching up on our first week back at school, the topic of friendship came up. One of the girls described some trouble she was having with a few of her other friends, and it prompted my roommates and I into a rather plain conversation about our own friendship.
A little background.
My roomates and I met living on the same floor of our freshmen dorm – the origins of many great college friendships. As housing for sophomore year rolled around, we felt it natural to all live together again. Three years later, we’re still happily sharing our space, wine, clothes, and laughter. (awww)
Of course, it hasn’t always been rainbows and butterflies. We’re a handful of 20-something year olds navigating through some of the most intense years of our lives… sh*t is gonna get real sometimes. Really real. If anyone told me that their college years were free from friend drama, broken hearts, bad grades, excessive booze, and/or an existential crisis about their future – I’d call BS, or think they’re an alien.
So as our conversation that night turned to our own friendship,
I found the words spilling from my mouth without a second thought: “These girls will support me through anything,” I said, taking a generous sip of my wine. “Even if they think I’m making a huge mistake, they’ll let me know their opinion, but they’ll stick by me no matter what.”
It’s something me and one of my friends have talked about separately – the mutual respect of each other’s honesty and ability to “be real” when we feel like the other is seeking advice. I used to think this was something only her and I shared – but in that moment I realized that we all shared this.
Maybe it wouldn’t be the blunt honesty me and this particular friend would express, but instead would be a casual conversation offering an opinion. Either way, we always let each other know what’s up.
And if someone doesn’t take the group’s advice?
Dates the shitty dude? Handles something the wrong way? ITS OK. Yeah, we might give you some sh*t, but you’re not going to be ostracized for screwing up. All of us have done things were not proud of, but that’s part of growing up. After college, most of us will be the most autonomous we’ve been our entire lives. We’ll have to make lots of choices by ourselves – but without any experience in the bad, how are we supposed to know the good?
True friendship is without judgement.
It seems to go without saying, right? But think how many friendships you know of (or maybe one of your own) that have ended over a disagreement of what was the “right” thing for someone to do.
A perfect example is the party vs. non party debate. “Sally” has a boyfriend. He’s awesome. They like staying in, spending time together – cute couple things, ya know? (gag). Sally’s friends are single. They like staying out late, drinking, and maybe hooking up with the not-so-great guy here and there. Sally is appalled. She doesn’t understand how her friends find their weekend-long benders fun, or how they seem to enjoy being single. Her friends, on the other hand, think Sally’s a wet blanket, and are tired of feeling like the only time they talk to Sally is when she is lecturing them on their “bad” behavior.
So who is in the wrong here? BOTH! Having a boyfriend is great!!! Going out with your squad every night is great!!!! What’s wrong is either side judging the other for how their living their life – and then making things so tense that the friendship falls apart.
Let your friends make their own decisions.
They’ll learn. I promise they will. It might take a while, but be patient. What’s more important is to be there for them if things goes south (but who knows! maybe it wasn’t a bad idea). *Side note: if you do feel your friend is in danger in any way, definitely intervene.*
Don’t judge them, just support them. Meet them halfway. You’ll keep more friendships. Not to mention, your friends will be there for you when you need someone after a questionable decision in your own life.
** Feautured images via one of my most bomb blogs/shop website: TheyAllHateUs **