Friday, February 18, 2011

Defining “True” Friendship; Blended to Perfection: Spring Break 2008

My Senior Year Picture; Rockwood, Pennsylvania 02.2001

Quick recap: Just finished my 6 week project on the Viking Vision, had an awesome crew change, spent the night in New Orleans on Bourbon Street, and finally headed home to make plans for some of my college buddies arrival. 

Synnove, me, Pete, Darcy, and Silje; New Orleans, Louisiana 02.2008

We have all heard of the saying, “Good friends are hard to find.” Have you actually ever taken the time and realized how true this quote is? I never thought about the significance of this quote until I left college. I had been fortunate in high school to make as many “good” friends as I did through varsity sports and other social functions. In college I joined a sisterhood, played on numerous intramural sports teams, and starred as Penn State’s leading first baseman, which then at that time it was easy to make “good” friends – “5 All-Time Favorite Memories at PSU; Good Times with Amazing People.”  Even in my Marine Biology field working offshore I met some amazing people, who I had become really close with and defined as “good” friends  – "New Friendships Created; Reuniting Old Ones”  and “Excellent First Impressions; a Guide on How to Give Great, Not Just Good Impressions.”

Synnove, me, Pete, and Silje; New Orleans, Louisiana 02.2008

Not to mention the awesome relationship that I have with my hometown best friends Elaina Peck and Stephanie Van Damme that was developed in my childhood years. These two characterized the “true” meaning of friendship and set my expectations on what the value of a friendship is worth. When I had begun my journey of relocating to a new state, moving into a recently renovated condominium, and calling a beach inspired town my home, I had never dreamt of how hard it would be to make friends, let alone “good” friends. I am sure my unique lifestyle did not help my situation much both considering I worked a lot and barely was around to form any special bonds. When I was getting ready to leave the Viking Vision I realized that I had no one to chill with when I was home. My college mates were discussing their plans for spring break 2008 and instantaneously we all had the same idea that they should come down and visit me. I promised one of my best friends Leslie that she could come down for her spring break when I had to cancel our plans due to work – “The World of Manatees; Protection of Impact on Marine Life and Wildlife." I called a few of my “good” friends at PSU and invited them down to visit me for their spring break 2008. 

Elaina and I; Rockwood, Pennsylvania 08.2008

I had three girls come stay with me in Florida and I had planned a week of activities for the duration of their visit. All of the girls were “good” friends of mine from PSU - Leslie, Jenna, and midget Megan were all spending their Spring Break 2008 with me. Unlike spring break 2007 – “The Chosen Path Revealed; Epic Spring Break Adventure” there were no cop cars involved and certainly no random encounters with Navy boys! This spring break was very mellow; I definitely needed this after working a great deal on the ocean. It was nice to have the girls down; we spent a substantial amount of time talking and laying out on the beach. It was at this time when I was reminded of what “true” friendship and “good” friends actually were. 

During the time of the girl’s visit, we did not have much of an itinerary planned. Everything pieced together, the girl’s visited the places that they wanted to go (including Fort Lauderdale), and we all thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company. Midget Megan was looking into working for my company since she and I were in the same field at PSU. Jenna was trying to figure out which nearby Florida beach town was a good location for her to do her doctorate program in Physical Therapy. On the other hand, Leslie focused on finishing her senior year of college and she wanted to relax at the beach with no worries running through her head. 

I remember one particular night where all of us were together and we discussed how important friendship was to each of us. I will never forget this conversation, because this is when I had begun to understand that it was natural to have a handful of “good” friends. As I looked at each of them I appreciated that I gave them a chance and opened my soul to them. I will never disregard those individuals that came into my life and positively impacted in some way. After all, is it not important to have friends surrounding you that are positive influences and only have your best interest at heart? 

My Mom and Stephanie; Bakersville, Pennsylvania 08.2007

Right before the girl’s left; I introduced them to the new guy that I had started dating shortly before they arrived. A handsome Romanian, Adrian, with an inspiration for Classical music and teaching little kids how to play musical instruments at a school nearby made quite the impression on the girls and he got my “good” friends approval stamps! After the girl’s flew back to Pennsylvania I recapped the spring break trip that we had together. I realized that each of these connections that I had with these girls aka “good” friends were formed out of a “true” friendship. Referring back to the earlier statement, “Good friends are hard to find!” Treasure the value of friendship and open your heart and soul to those that deserve it.

Elaina and Jake; Rockwood, Pennsylvania 08.2008

How to Define a “Good” Friend:

Along with one of my favorite Ralph Waldo Emerson quotes – “A Voyage of Self-Discovery; Persistence of a Dream,” a few of my recently favored friendship quotes are, “The only way to have a friend is to be one” and “A friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of nature.” In retrospect, a friendship is one of the most valuable relationships that can be formed between two human beings. I have reflected on my “good” friends from my childhood, high school, college, and now within my professional field. I have compiled a list of what I think a “true” friendship is. It is times like these when I am sitting on the ocean hundreds, sometimes thousands of miles away from my “good” friends that I find security in knowing that they are thinking of me in the same moment that I am thinking of them.

Jenna, me, Leslie, and Meg; Fort Lauderdale, Florida 03.2008

“True” Friendships Revealed:

Trust – If you ever had fallen in a heap of trouble, your friend would be there in an instant. They would not question you right away; they would support you, and ask questions later after your trouble free. This kind of friendship thrives on comfort, inspiration, and trust.

Distance – From my personal experiences, this is one of the greatest factors that pop into my friendships. How to endure a long distance friendship? It does not matter if you talk every day, once a week, twice a month, or even three times a year; bottom line is that whenever you talk or see each other again, you pick up right where you left off. Geographical separation is just a part of life and both you and your friend understand this. Distance may get in the way, but it never fades your friendship; it only grows better with time. In other words, friendships can grow separately, without ever growing apart. After all, this is the beauty of friendship. 

Qualities – Just like you get into a serious relationship and take your significant other’s flaws, as well as their accomplishments; the same occurs when you accept your friend’s positive and negative qualities. Having a friend you know each other’s strengths and weaknesses – nothing is hidden. Most importantly, you respect each other’s individuality.

Selflessness – Friends help because they want to, not because they have to. Your friend wants only the best for you and at any specific times may help you reach your goals by giving you confidence and supporting you all the way 100%. Friends look out for your greatest interest and will remind you constantly how proud they are of you. When the whole world has turned its back on you, your friend has not. 

Jenna and I; Fort Lauderdale, Florida 03.2008

Principles – I have a handful of “good” friends who I would call as my inspirations in life. These are the type of people that you idolize, admire, and only want the best for. Your friend conducts themselves by the standard, morals, and ideals that promote the definition of what it is to be a human being. With these principles come kindness, compassion, selflessness, and motivation. These traits are extremely hard to find, but once you do they certainly are a treasure that is worth discovering. Sometimes we are not aware of who our “good” friends are until the moment strikes in life where we need friends the most and those that surround us are the people who love us. Through my “near-death” experience in a car crash where I totaled my car in the fall of 2001 I had quickly learned this lesson. I woke up to find an individual that I had not yet defined as a “good” friend. As she visited me in the hospital that weekend, more than my parents did, I quickly came to the realization that she was indeed a “good” friend, if not a “best” friend.

Confidence – As I mentioned earlier, when the whole world has turned their back on you, it is important to remember that your friend has not. A “true” friendship will always believe in you, in the times that you may not believe in yourself. Your friend will constantly bring out the best in you.

Time – Have you ever had a friend not be able to make time for you? Better question, have you ever had a “good” or “best” friend not be able to make time for you?  I have been dealt this situation a few times with my friends when I return to my hometown. My immediate reaction to this is that it is equally important that my friends (who say they are my friends) meet me half way. I find it sometimes irritating that I drive all over the place to visit my friends when in reality I should be home spending time with my family who I only see once a year. I have discovered a set of my “good” friends will make time for me and go out of their way to visit me while I am in town. The most valuable gift you can give to a “good” friend is your time. Time is something that you can never buy nor take back. The moment an individual shared their time with you, they have shared a part of their life with you.

Leslie and I; Fort Lauderdale, Florida 03.2008

Respecting “True” Friendships:

There are probably hundreds of other characteristics that define what a “true” friendship is, but I have provided you my personal collection that I desire in my friendships. Remember, all “best” friends are friends, but not are friends are “best “friends. The same is in relation with a “good” friend. Lifetime “good” friends are rare, but even if you have one “good” friend consider yourself fortunate. There are so many different types of people that we come across in our daily lives; for those that remain by our side through thick and thin, these are the people that should be recognized and respected for being “best” friends. In spite of everything, your"best" friends are your biggest supporters.

The Study of “True” Friendship and its Meaning:

The study of friendship is included in the fields of sociology, social psychology, anthropology, philosophy, and zoology. Various academic theories of friendship have been proposed, among which are social exchange theory, equity theory, relational dialectics, and attachment styles.

A Few Anonymous Quotes Based on the Value of Friendships:

"Some people come into our lives, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never the same."

"Wherever you may be it is your friends who make your world."

Me and Rusty (Snowboard); Rockwood, Pennsylvania 02.2001