Good morning Stallion Nation. As I mentioned on Monday, my theme this year is friendship.
This COVID-19 Pandemic has made me reflect on friendship, and I want to share my reflections with you.
Human beings are social creatures, we are not solitary animals. We are wired to be with others. We need each other for safety, security, refuge, and of course love.
But what about friendship? I want to share a story of the lonely Elephant who was looking for friends…
One day, a lone Elephant wandered the forest looking for friends. She came across a monkey and asked, “will you be my friend, Monkey?”
The Monkey replied, you are too big and cannot swing on trees as I do. So I cannot be your friend”.
The Elephant then came across a Rabbit and asked him if she could be his friend. The Rabbit replied, “You are too big and cannot fit inside my burrow”. You cannot be my friend.”
Then the Elephant met a Frog and asked if she could be her friend. The frog replied, “You are too big and heavy. You cannot jump like me. I am sorry, but you cannot be my friend.”
The Elephant then asked a Fox if they could be friends. The Fox replied, “You are too big to hide in the tall grass like I do. You cannot be my friend.”
The next day, all of the animals the Elephant had met the day before were running away in fear. The Elephant asked what was happening, and was told that a lion was in the area trying to attack the animals.
The Elephant wanted to help, so she went to the lion and said, “Please sir, leave my friends alone. Do not eat them.”
The Lion did not listen, and instead told the Elephant to mind her own business. He was, after all, the king of the jungle.
Seeing no other way to help her friends, the Elephant began to make trumpeting sounds, which could be heard miles away, and started chasing the lion, which ultimately scared the Lion away.
The Elephant returned to the group of animals, and told them what happened with the Lion. On hearing how the Elephant saved their lives, all animals in unison said, You are just the right size to be our friend.”
Moral: Friends come in all shapes and sizes.
Now, think about your own group of friends, are they all the same? Everyone the same gender, religion, tribe, outlook on life? And how about your best friend. What is a BFF? Who is your ride or die person? Is it someone who knows you better than anyone else? Or someone who is more loyal than anyone else, has your back? Or someone you appreciate and admire more than anyone else and because of the person’s values and behavior? Maybe all of this? We all have different criteria for defining friendship.
At AUN, I want to encourage you to develop friendships with others who are different than you - - all shapes, sizes, beliefs, and perspectives. You will grow by trusting and learning from each other.
The best kind of friendship occurs when you feel comfortable being vulnerable, and you grow as a person from the experience. When the space between you and another person becomes scared, full of trust, and you can reveal your fears, anxieties, dreams, and deepest desires, without fear of criticism or rejection – this is the magic. You can be yourself fully, knowing the other person will accept you and be in that space with you.
The problem is, not everyone is worthy of our trust. Some people approach us as friends, but then we find out they have an agenda, they want to use us for something; we are a means to an end for them, or they betray us, by sharing our secrets or other disloyalties. This is not friendship.
Knowing how much to share with a friend is also important. We all have friends that share too much information and we say TMI, and wish they had boundaries. We also have friends we wish would share more with us, they seem to hold back. Knowing what to share, when, with whom, is the wisdom of friendship.
Think about the circle of friends you have – I am sure you can classify them into 2 types of friends. With your closest, best friends, you can spend time with them, and time seems to stop, 3 hours can go by and it seems like only 10 minutes, you leave each other feeling energized and alive and happy for the time spent together. And yet, you have other friends, that when you spend time with them, time expands, such that 10 minutes can feel like 3 hours; they drain you of energy, and when you leave, you are exhausted, possibly in a bad mood, and unsure of the value of the time spent. It is best if you keep the ratio of the first kind to the second kind of friendship 10;1. If all of your friends drain you, you will have no energy left for anything else in your life. Make sure most of your friends are in the first category, giving you energy, not draining you.
We also learn about friends who are transactional; they view the relationship as basically a series of transactions between people, especially what you can do for them, and they can only view you through this lens and value you as long as you are doing things for them. This is not friendship.
I think great boxing legend Muhammad Ali said it best when he said” Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain”. It’s not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything”. Muhammad Ali is right, you do not take a class on the topic of Friendship. And yet, it is vital to the human experience to have successful friendships. As you begin this new adventure at AUN, think about the kind of friend you want to be, and the quality of the friendships you want to have. And then make it happen
Our dear new students, AUN is a blank canvas for you, and you can use this canvas as an opportunity to develop real friendships, based on trust, give you energy, that is not transactional, and will last a lifetime.
Stallion Nation welcomes you in friendship. And remember, friendship is wearing a face mask.