Friendships, like holidays, greeting cards, and movie awards, have become so commercialized now. It is all about give and take more than sacrifice and 'friend in need' theory. Friends did not come easy for me. Being the fat girl through school I had only as many friends as I can count on the palm of one hand. And I am talking fingers, and not the lines on each. A noteworthy girl who loved me unconditionally is Juju (she has been there always and forever!). I did not have to work on my friendship with her; consciously and with effort, because it grew effortlessly. Each of us did tiny little things for each other that had deep meanings. That; perhaps, is the reason we still bond despite being seven seas across from each other. I may be MIA most of the time but when we connect, she is always responsive with a big, welcoming heart. Such friendships, I feel, are Godsent because they seem to form on their own and carry on on their own. Others need proactive efforts. I am not saying making an effort to make friendship grow is bad, it is just pretty conscious. The miracle there is for the formula to work. I do have a couple of near-close friendships that I have formed with considerable effort. Mine is not a recipe for success, but if God's on your side in regard to being friends with an individual, any one of these (or all) may work.
O! Everybodaaayyyy loves gifts. Some friendships actually don't work out because there is not enough gifts exchange. A lady from a social circle told my mother that (in that circle) people except "returns". So if you dine at somebody's place you must invite them to dinner too. This is normal and healthy in friendships but in socially-forced friendships it is the law. I love giving gifts and they don't mean expensive luxuries but tiny little things that convey my heart's emotions for friends. Handwritten notes, mementos and souvenirs from places I visited, postcards, and so on were my kind of tiny gestures. Juju and I used to write letters to each other. We exchanged them through snail mail!
Lend An Ear
The first friend that I made in high school was a case of attention deficit. I knew she had cut her wrist. It was horizontally across, so I knew it was not seriously planned and wanted somebody's attention. I asked her out on a walk before school started and talked about blah blah for a good fifteen minutes before asking her "what happened?". She said it was a vegetable chopping accident to which I smiled and punched her in the shoulder and said she should teach me how to chop with her wrist. The good fifteen minutes that I had spent earlier were simply to bond. The next half hour I spent hearing her out as to why she cut herself. It was a guy-related thing but I discovered many deep rooted self-esteem and attention deficit issues. I had been through so many myself, having broken out of a fat cocoon. Me lending her an ear just helped me win her friendship.
Sharing notes, helping with projects, counseling ... I have done it all for friends. It grew my friendships, definitely. On the greater part I was taken for granted as well. A scumbag (and I mean that!) actually made me do all assignments after getting me under a powerful influence of empathizing and all. Helping out does win friends but I cannot guarantee they will be there to help you out as well. So, helping out needs to happen without expecting any favors in return.
Honesty is mostly appreciated by people. I have never stopped myself from telling friends that something does not look good on them, or that they should do something differently, just to avoid hurting their feelings. It usually has gotten me good responses from friends because they realize the ways in which I have saved them a lot of trouble. But not everybody handles the truth nicely. So be careful.