ILLUMINATION
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ILLUMINATION

I don’t have a lot of friends… but I’m okay with it.

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Welcome back, kindred spirits.

I don’t have a lot of friends… but I’m okay with it.

Because I prefer quality over quantity. So, it doesn’t bother me that I don’t have thousands of followers on social media or that I don’t have hundreds of friends in real life.

Instead, I value deep, authentic, and meaningful friendships. These are the friends with whom:

- Even if we disagree and argue, we still respect and care for each other

- I can share my dreams too without them laughing at me

- I can bare my soul so that I feel completely understood and accepted

- We can grow together and become the best version of ourselves with

So, no. I don’t need to have a ton of friends… just the right ones.

In fact, there’s a limit to how many deep friendships we can sustain. We can only cognitively handle up to 150 meaningful social relationships. This is known as Dunbar’s number.

But the thing is, not all 150 social relationships are created equally.

Surprisingly, Dunbar found the number of close friendships people have is five. Similarly, another study found having 3–5 close friendships is enough to feel fulfilled.

So instead of stretching yourself thin trying to make new friends and staying in contact with everyone you meet…

It’s worth it to deepen a few of your existing friendships.

So, how do you do it?

There are 2 steps.

1-Discern whether someone is a good friend to see if the friendship is worth deepening.

2-Self-reflect to see if YOU’RE a good friend.

If both conditions are met, the friendship will naturally deepen.

I feel like nowadays, we call people “friends” too casually. Without understanding what friendship really means.

We call someone a friend, yet we:

- Don’t trust them with our feelings and thoughts

- Don’t confide in them

- Talk about them behind their backs

In this case, are you really friends?

As Seneca said:

“Nowadays, most people judge a man after they have made him their friend, instead of making him their friend after they have judged him.

So, ponder for a long time whether you shall admit a given person to your friendship. But when you have decided to admit him, welcome him with all your heart and soul.”

I feel like the word “judge” often has a bad connotation to it, which is why I prefer the word “discern.”

But the main point is to find out whether someone is a good friend before giving him or her your friendship and deepening it.

So, here are 7 signs someone is a good friend:

1 — They accept you for who you are.

William Shakespeare said, “A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.”

I feel so accepted by my close group of friends. They understand my tendency to want to be alone. They respect my decision to be a vegetarian. They respect my spiritual beliefs.

The bottom line is, even if we have different interests, beliefs, and outlooks, they still accept me and love me for who I am. And ultimately, this comes down to having the same values. We value respect and acceptance.

2 — They stick around during the good and bad times.

I went through a tough time in 2016. At the time, I drank a lot. I partied a lot. I was selfish. And sometimes, I even lied.

But my closest friends stuck by me at that time. Even though they saw the worst of me, they still chose to stick around and help me overcome that period of my life.

Look, life is cyclical. You will have ups and downs in life. It’s easy for people to stick around during the good times. But the sign of a good friend is when they’re with you and supporting you through the hard times.

They’ll be your shoulder to cry on. They’ll listen to your problems. They’ll check in on you. And they’ll take the time to let you know they’re thinking about you.

3 — They celebrate your success.

My friends were happy for me when I got published in Thought Catalog. When I started my blog. When I signed my first client for copywriting services.

And that’s a sign of a good friend. A good friend celebrates your accomplishments, wins, and joyful moments. They feel genuinely happy to see things are going well for you.

4 — They make time for you.

My close friends and I live in different countries. We haven’t met in person in more than three years. But despite the physical distance, I still feel as close to them as ever.

Why? Because we make the time to talk to each other either through text, call, or video chats. We schedule our calls A MONTH in advance to suit everyone’s schedules.

Look, I get that when everyone turns into adults, we become preoccupied with work, family, hobbies, etc.

But a good friend will treat you like a priority. They’ll set quality time to catch up with you through a text, phone, or video call, or even hopping on a flight to see you.

5 — They tell you the truth even if you don’t want to hear it.

I used to chase and date emotionally unavailable men. Even though they treated me poorly, I was head over heels for them. I refused to see their red flags and often justified their behaviour. But my friends would straight up tell me if they thought I was dating the wrong guy.

And even though I didn’t always listen to their advice, they still supported my decisions. And they were there to pick up the pieces when things didn’t work out.

This applied to other areas of my life too. They told me if they saw I was engaging in unhealthy habits. They told me if they felt like I was victimizing myself.

Because here’s the thing… a good friend has your best interests at heart. You may disagree with what your friend says or thinks, but they want what’s best for you. And they’ll tell you what you need to hear if you’re falling off track.

6 – They encourage you to achieve your goals.

My close friends have been supportive of my goals. Whenever I made a TikTok dance video, I sent it to them first. Whenever I wrote an article, they made sure to read it. Whenever I made a YouTube video, they watched it. And for my birthday this year, they bought me courses on Domestika because they supported my growth as a creator.

Because a good friend will support you in working towards personal improvement. They’ll give you the motivation to follow through with the things you want to achieve. Whether that means drinking or smoking less, exercising more, or starting a creative outlet.

7 — They don’t talk behind your back.

When I was in university, I often talked behind people’s backs. But a few years ago when I started my personal development journey, I realized I was an awful person for doing so.

Look, gossiping is common. Because people always want to hear about how badly someone is doing to make up for their own shortcomings.

But the sign of a good friend is someone who’s always loyal. Someone who would never talk about you and even defend you when you’re not there.

Now, instead of just passing judgement on other people, make sure you reflect to see if you have these qualities of a good friend, too. If you don’t, then work towards becoming one.

Only then will your friendship with others deepen.

As for me, I wasn’t always a good friend. Sometimes, I’ve been the toxic person in my friendships. But I’ve worked on becoming a better friend and person over the years.

And I’m eternally grateful to my closest friends who’ve stuck beside me while I was at my lowest and when I didn’t treat them as they deserved.

Lastly, thanks for reading till the end if you made it this far.

Stay strong,

Irene

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