Letters section lead by Jen Faulkner
Friendships are hard things to navigate at times. From when you’re a toddler and your peers refuse to share, to being at school and struggling not to give in to peer pressure, to being an adult and all of the complexities that come with it. I was talking to my fourteen year old the other day, who often has friendships struggles as all teenagers do, and the conversation inspired me to write her a letter about the many aspects of what it takes to be a good friend.
We talk about friendships a lot. Aside from exam stress and sibling rivalry it’s one of our main topics of conversation. You talk and I listen because I have learnt that you don’t want me to fix the problem, just understand.
But you see, the advice I want to give you so desperately is how; even though you are struggling now at the tender age of fourteen, friendships don’t really change as you get older. You merely learn which ones are the ones worth keeping and fighting for.
First and foremost, you need to surround yourself with people who make you feel good about yourself. Friends who make you laugh and who make you feel a better person for having them in your life. No one has the right to make you feel worthless, or ashamed of who you are. Likewise, no one is allowed to throw your good intentions back at you if you reach out to them in support. But if they do snap you need to remember that everyone has stuff going on that you know nothing about. They may lash out and over react for reasons you’ll never understand. It doesn’t always excuse their actions, but it does at least absolve you of being the cause of them.
In all situations you need to try and be empathetic, but only up to a point – never let anyone to repeatedly let you down or hurt your feelings.
And if it is you that snaps or lashes out then you must always hold your hands up and apologise. If the person in question chooses not to accept your apology then you may have to move on. There’s only so much groveling you can do, and a true friend would never make you.
There will be friends who come into your life for a fixed period of time and then suddenly disappear, and also those who stay close by forever. Both are equally important and deserve your focus. And true friends, no matter how long they have been absent for, will feel like they never left your side when you are reunited.
See the best in everyone unless they convince you otherwise. And, most of all; be the kind of friend to others that you would need for yourself, and always be brave enough to let broken friendships go.
Love, Mum x
Keep sending your letter to Jen Faulkner by email Jen.Faulkner@bristolwoman.org.uk