True Friends

I suppose I never really grasped the personal value of shallow friends until I no longer had any. By definition, a shallow friend is not really a friend at all — someone we know, talk to, socialize with — someone beyond a mere acquaintance (or, so we thought). But here’s the thing about shallow friends: they are conditional friends.

But here’s the caveat to that: You really can’t discern the difference between a true friend and a shallow friend until the friendship is put to the test — a test of genuine acceptance and true character.

At the time, we may perceive these shallow friends as being genuine friends — seemingly true and loyal in any situation, accepting of any fault or misstep. And the problem is, until that inevitable test of the friendship, there is really no way to discern a true friend from a shallow friendship.

Obviously, my own tragic and destructive choices have put every friendship I’ve ever had through an extreme rendition of this test. Some have remained true friends, but most of my “friends” revealed their unfortunate lack of character and shallow nature by excommunicating me from their lives.

This leaves me in a unique position because, in many respects, I am happy to have flushed the false, fake, bogus people out of my life. However, I didn’t know they were fake at the time — ignorance was bliss: I thought I really had more friends. But I didn’t; I was merely acquainted with a lot of disingenuous people.

That being said, ignorance may have been bliss, but I do miss having more people with whom I could regularly socialize. My true and genuine friends are always willing to come around, but there’s just something about reevaluating the quantity of social options which feels superficially disheartening.

It’s as though I’m grasping onto opposite ends of the spectrum. I don’t want the fake/false/bogus/disingenuous people in my life, but I miss having the quintessential gaggle of friends with whom I embarked on an innumerable amount of youthful adventures during my college years and young adulthood.

Perhaps everyone’s social circle thins out like this as they grow older (without the assistive variable of a destructive life choice). Maybe not. I wouldn’t know. I am only able to see my life within its current context, so contemplating the what-ifs is essentially futile. However, one thing I am sure of: The friends who remain — the true, genuine friends — I value at the equivalent of an extended family. As Sean Connery said in Finding Forrester, “…not always the family that is our blood, but the family who can become our blood.”

Some of the friends I have now have become my brothers. Some of the friends I have now have become my sisters. Furthermore, I have even met people since my return to society who have accepted me, knowing my history from the beginning of our acquaintanceship, and embraced me regardless. I have learned that this new family (of friends) is more valuable, more faithful, and more loving than the shallow friends I thought I’d known for all those years.

Because, as Connery goes on to say in Finding Forrester, “…and should we have the wisdom to open our door to this new family, we will find that the wishes and hopes we once had for the father who once guided us, for the brother who once inspired us — those wishes are there for us once again.” But before this can happen, we must be honest individuals, genuine human beings, and true friends to one another. And for a true friend, nothing from the past can separate the certain friendship from the uncertain future.

Sure, shallow friends make us feel nice and loved and appreciated, simply resulting from the social inclusiveness of their presence. However, these shallow friends lack the integrity to remain in the friendship when life becomes less than ideal.

I wish more of my friends has been genuine, but I am even more grateful, thankful, and loving of the true friends who have remained. I happily and willingly open the door to these friends — this new family — and those wishes are here for me once again.

My true friends know who they are, and they know how much I genuinely love them. I never pass-up the opportunity to express how much a real friend — my new family — is truly appreciated.