If you have to ask whether or not someone is a good friend, they’re probably not. My brother has the most amazing group of friends. He met them all in high school. They’re this phenomenal group of guys who have managed to grow up without growing apart. What’s so fascinating about this group of guys, is that each one of them is so completely different. I’m not kidding. I’ve never seen anything like it. Like crayons in a coloring box, they all have their own distinct identity but blend perfectly when mixed together.
It wasn’t until my brother’s wedding this past April, that I looked around and realized how truly lucky he is. His friends are so accepting of one another, I find it to be completely refreshing when I’m in their presence. They’re not trying to be liked they just are. In fact, none of them are trying at all; which is probably what makes their relationship so special.
One would think that there would have to be something that ties this group of men together to create such a strong bond. I think it’s the fact that each one of them has their own distinct personality, and that they value each other’s individuality. It’s not superficial. It’s emotional. If you look around, most men and women who are friends share more obvious common interests. They dress the same, act the same and even talk the same. These men don’t.
In fact, there’s such a thing called idiosyncratic credits which exists in most group dynamics. Idiosyncratic credits are an unspoken rule of social conformity. It happens when you meet a new group of people and play follow the leader until you realize the rules of the group. A new member of a group is said to get idiosyncratic credits in time. The new member must earn these credits. They must behave in accordance with the group so as not to disturb the group’s order or balance.
Most of us have encountered an experience that has involved idiosyncratic credits. When you first begin a new job and are trying to get a feel for the organization, you recognize when and where people go to lunch, if anyone eats alone and so on. You begin to see what behavior is acceptable and what behavior is not.
My brother’s group of friends play no games and require no idiosyncratic credits. They welcome everyone as long as they’re real and honest. They’re not interested in what everyone else is doing, they just want to be. They’re the interesting people who make the rules as opposed to following them. They believe in having fun, and call one another out openly when they disagree. There is little if any drama.
Observing my brother and his friends at his wedding got me thinking. Not only did it provide me with a visual frame of reference to reinforce my understanding of what makes a good friend, but it placed a spotlight on all other friendships that were not authentic. I’ve never had that close knit group of girlfriends; the kind of friends who embrace one another despite their differences.
When we look at cliques, we tend to see more mirror images than uniqueness. Sometimes people look so similar, you can hardly tell them apart and they’re not even related. Our desire to fit in as human beings is no news flash.
My brother’s friends clash beautifully. Perhaps their ability to be candid and real is another reason their friendship works. I think there is something to be said about a group of people who can bond over their differences; they’re all incredibly secure.
In life we tend to feel so threatened by things we do not know or understand. Instead of venturing outside of our comfort zones, we huddle closer toward what we know too afraid to see what’s beyond our own horizons. While my brother’s friends have taught me more than I could have asked for, the one thing I am most grateful for is their ability to love so openly and honestly. It’s energizing and exhilarating to be around. It’s opened my eyes and made me more aware of what’s possible, especially when it comes to friendships.
Being similar may be safer. It may create less waves and feel like less work, but when you realize you’re the kind of person who naturally flows in a different direction, it’s nice to be reminded that there are people out there who will love you for who you are, not who they want you to be. No one should ever have to settle for someone else’s standards. Good friends are sacred and they are rare and so are you. This is why embracing who you are when you’re with your friends is the only thing that you should do.