Last week, I came across a statement that left me contemplating the meaning of being a true friend. It asserted that a true friend is someone who shows up whenever you need them, without any questions asked. As I read those words, they struck a chord within me because, while I strive to be a true friend to many, I realize that I cannot always show up unconditionally without asking questions. This made me question my own authenticity as a friend. Am I failing to meet the standards of a true friend?
This introspection led me to reflect on similar statements I’ve encountered, particularly those surrounding the concept of a true leader. Although I can’t recall the exact quote, it sparked thoughts about the prevalence of these grand statements we often read or hear about regarding the true essence of various roles in our lives.
In my frequent encounters with clichéd statements like “a true friend is,” I’ve come to realize the limitations of such broad assertions. As someone who is actively recovering from decades of black-and-white thinking, I’ve noticed how these statements eliminate the possibility of embracing diversity and accepting that there may not be a definitive authority deciding what is ultimately true. This prompts important questions: Who determines what is true? How do we measure it? And are these broad statements potentially detrimental to our relationships?
Broad statements that define true greatness can inadvertently hinder our ability to appreciate the nuances and complexities of individuals and relationships. By asserting that there is a single, universally valid definition of a true friend, we overlook the vast diversity of human experiences and perspectives. This rigidity prevents us from recognizing and celebrating the unique qualities and growth opportunities that each person brings to the table.
When we encounter statements like “a true friend is” or “a true leader does,” we must question the notion of an ultimate decider. Who holds the authority to determine what makes someone a true friend, lover, or leader? Are there universally accepted criteria by which we can measure these qualities? The reality is that such determinations are subjective and influenced by cultural, societal, and personal biases. Embracing this uncertainty allows us to appreciate the individuality of each relationship and the diverse ways in which people fulfill various roles.
Attempting to measure and compare individuals against a singular notion of true greatness can be problematic. It sets unrealistic expectations and fosters an environment of constant evaluation and judgment. Relationships suffer when we use broad statements as benchmarks for measuring the worth of our loved ones. Instead of appreciating their unique strengths, we may focus on their perceived shortcomings, leading to dissatisfaction and strain within the relationship.
Every individual is on their own journey of growth and self-discovery. By acknowledging and accepting the differences among us, we create space for personal development and authentic connections. Celebrating the diverse qualities and experiences that make each person unique allows for a more enriching and inclusive approach to relationships.
Rather than adhering to rigid definitions, we should embrace the idea that true greatness encompasses a spectrum of possibilities. Recognizing that different people may embody different qualities of a true friend enables us to appreciate the richness and complexity of human nature. It encourages us to value the specific contributions and strengths that individuals bring to our lives.
To foster healthy and fulfilling relationships, we must prioritize open-mindedness and acceptance. Instead of relying on one-dimensional definitions, we should cultivate an environment that encourages growth, empathy, and understanding. This means appreciating the strengths and imperfections of those around us, while also recognizing that personal growth is an ongoing journey for everyone.
My suggestion is that perhaps we can gently move away from rigid definitions and nurture relationships with openness, celebrating the unique qualities and journeys of those around us and each one as individuals ask ourselves what do WE need as individuals in any specific relationship in order to cultivate more meaningful and healthy relationships.

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