Of frivolities, failures and friendships

(By Siddharth Janarthanan (sir) )

I was in grade 10 when I woke up in the middle of a night feeling anxious, bitter, small and guilty. It was perhaps a culmination of several weeks of feeling thoroughly conflicted about the issue at hand. It was most likely the first time when my abilities and potential were laid out clearly in front of my eyes compared to not just my peers in general, but my close friends as well.

And I was not feeling great about where I thought I stood.

I was then, and even now am, quite proud of how I react to and deal with my friends achieving great success in their lives. I most often feel happy for them and thrilled at their achievements. Which was why I felt small and guilty when I realized that I was resenting and feeling bitter about my closest friends being more able academically and the clear differences that were beginning to appear in the form of various test results and even just discussions.

Thankfully the phase didn’t last long, and it did no damage to my high school friendships. However, I would be lying if I say similar phases didn’t occur later in life, although they were not as pronounced and dramatic as the one mentioned first. What I would like to tell you, the reader, young or old, is that it is perfectly alright to have thoughts or feelings which may make you think you are mean spirited. But what you say and how you say it, and what you do about it are what affects relationships more and what truly defines you.

And that’s where the quality of friendships matters significantly. We all deserve to have friends with whom we can talk about our vulnerabilities, fears as well as our strengths and ambitions. Friendships where we need to hide and feel guilty about our abilities, assets and fears are not healthy or sustainable and they may cause more harm than good in the long run. So instead of bonding over or alienating individuals because of superficial similarities and differences, let us look for real depth while forging new relationships where there is trust, support and no fear of being brutally honest when required. After all, you don’t get to choose family, but you do get to choose your friends.

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