Growing up, I didn't keep close friends. My schedule was volatile, my emotions were volatile, and I preferred at the time to put my energy into romantic relationships. As I've lived at college, and my focus has shifted away from being in romantic relationships at all, my friendships have become very important to me and one of the highlights of school.
What's nice about friends is that there are different friends for different situations. There is a good chance that I will never meet anyone else who fully shares common interests with me, or even more than one of my central interests. Here are some of the different types of friends who are most valued in specific activities that we both enjoy:
The Friend Who Thinks Like You
This is probably the most important kind of friend, and it's hard to find one without just morphing together your thought processes and becoming people who think similarly. I'm talking about people that just get you; that you often don't need to explain things to because they already know what you're going to ask them. You can get a lot done with this person, especially if you're in the same career field.
The Friend You Relax With
Everyone has at least one friend who likes to chill. They're someone who likes to relax at all times, or whenever possible. This isn't in a lazy way; this is in a healthy and time-appropriate way. Hanging out with someone like this always helps me relax too, and helps me take my mind off things that I otherwise would have kept thinking about. If these were your only friends, you might fall into some lazy habits.
The Friend You Do Things With
With some friends, you have nothing in common, or at least very little. Maybe you met over a common interest, like a school club or co-op, but you're two different people with two very different lives. Except: you both love to do things. Anything. Going to events, parties, and gatherings, being outside and going slacklining, taking longboard trips. All of these random things put together are what you and this friend do with each other all the time. You push each other to be interested in new things, and look at the world in a different way. You and your friend are just as important to each other.
The Friend You Collaborate With
Some friends work well with you (there's some overlap here with The Friend Who Thinks Like You). I lvoe to do homework, work on side projects, and go to hackathons with the friends that work well with me. And, for sure, not all my friends match this criteria. I am not doubting their ability to program or complete coursework, but I absolutely would not be a good partner for them. Our working styles would clash, and too much conflict would prevent us from ever making progress. If you find a friend (if you're in college, especially someone in your major or your classes) that you seem to be on the same page with when working on somethimg, jump on this opportunity and collaborate!
The Friend You Love And Hate
This might not be the fault of your friend, or a fault of you. Some people, when around each other too much, take notice of small habits and issues and became extremely frustrated. And yet, on the good days, you two get along better than anyone else, for no obvious reason. This is the kind of person you could absolutely never live with, but would probably love to hang out with once or twice a week, just because of the love-hate relationship you two have with each other.
The Friend(s) You Are In A Club With
When you put a lot of your time into something with a group of other people, you tend to become very close, no matter what interests or opinions clash with your own. In my a cappella group, I'm nearly closer with every member of the group more than anyone else on campus. It doesn't matter that I mostly see them at rehearsals, shows, and after-parties. The same kind of bond exists within a sports team. When you put so much effort into one task as a team, then, success or failure, you connect on a level that you never could with your other friends. And, when you do succeed in reaching your goals, the satisfaction cannot be matched. You may hate to see these people in any context other than what you team up with them in, but that never seems to matter when you're winning an intramural game or throwing an awesome show in afterHours. These friendships seem to last so long, and the diversity of the members leaves a lot from you to learn from.
The Friend You Party With
I'm not a party animal. I wager that not too many computer science nerds like me are. However, I do enjoy hanging with friends for a night and making mistakes together. With some friends, you never have a chance to see each other outside of Friday or Saturday night, and that's okay, because that's the context in which you all came to know each other and become friends. Some call these kinds of friendships as shallow, but if you recognize them for what they are, you may begin to see the necessity they carry.
The Friend You Basically Only Text
Your relationship with this friend may be based almost entirely on texting. It's not anyone's fault; you have conflicting schedules with a lack of shared free time. But, when you're ready to zone out and just talk about nothing with someone, you know there is someone there for you who wants to waste time with you. These friendships probably are more shallow, and maybe in other circumstances, you two would be much closer. But, for now, it isn't the case, and they still are there for me in their own way.
The Friend You See Once A Year
Friends from home fit very well in this category. You two only update each other on your lives once in a blue moon, and you can only hope you two are in the same place at the same time so that you can finally see each other in person. And, yet, you still trust this person wtih your life and all your secrets. The bond has already been forged, and you are reminders to each other of the good parts of your childhood/past. You can always call them at 3am and tell them about your issues, and they'll always be the first they let know about the latest important development in their lives. You may be more likely to lose touch as you grow older and become busy, but you will always remember this friend fondly.
What's the takeaway from this? Like how no person is truly perfect, no friendships come without their downsides. But, there's no need for that. If you can find one friend who matches you in every aspect of your being, then embrace the friendship and never let it out of your sight. For every other friendship, they are there for you to make a certain part of your life better, and you do the same for them. Once you recognize that your imperfections shape the types of friendships you make, you can truly appreciate how others are exactly the same. I love my friends, and I hope they know it.