“When the night has come and the land is dark and the moon is the only light we’ll see, no I won’t be afraid, no I won’t be afraid, just as long as you stand, stand by me.” I can think of no better way to start a discussion about why friends are the best emotional support we can have than with the opening lines from Ben E. King’s ultimate friendship song, can you? Having friends who will stand by us in tough times makes all the difference in the world. Keep reading to learn why.
Why Friends Are the Best Emotional Support We Can Have
Robert Louis Stevenson once said that a friend is a gift you give yourself. Jess C. Scot proclaimed that friends are the family you choose. There are countless more wonderful quotes like that, but it was (unsurprisingly) Shakespeare who really hit the proverbial nail on the head. He said, “A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.”
If we break down his words, we get to the real heart of why friends are the best emotional support we can have.
Friends know who you truly are
We put on a lot of different faces depending on who we’re around. That doesn’t mean we’re fake, just that we have to behave in certain ways around certain people. We have our “professional” face and our “mommy” face. Our wife, daughter, PTA president, soccer coach, and even grocery shopping faces. Very few people get to see every side of us, and that’s the way it should be. After all, you don’t want your boss to see your “complaining about work” face, right?
Our friends are one of the very, very few people who actually get to see all of those faces come together into one whole being. You can almost feel all of your many pieces click into place the moment you sit down with your tribe. That’s one of the reasons why it’s so important for women to go out with friends on a regular basis.
They understand where you have been
Just like they know who you are inside and out, friends friends are the best emotional support we can have because they know where we’ve been in life. I’m not just talking about those lifelong pals who were right there with you. All good friends, new and old, have a unique ability to deeply empathize with our histories. The bond between us is so strong that when we tell them a story from our past, it’s almost like we’re transporting them back in time so they can experience it for themselves.
That unique ability helps them do more than just know what our lives were like before we met them. It leads to a deeper understanding of the person that we are. Like a good therapist, friends take all that history into consideration when they listen to us vent about our spouse, our boss, or anything else that’s on our mind. The best part? Unlike a therapist, they don’t present us with a bill when they’re done listening!
Friends accept what you have become
A true friend accepts the person you are today, even if it’s drastically different than the person they met one, five, or 25 years ago. That acceptance comes from understanding where you’ve been and watching the many pieces of the past and present shape the person you’ve become. See how it all ties together? That Shakespeare knows his stuff!
When it comes to emotional support, there’s very little more powerful in this world than being able to talk to someone who genuinely accepts you. To sit down with someone who has zero expectations about who you should be and just let you be…it’s as wonderfully relaxing and rejuvenating as taking a vacation. In fact, traveling with girlfriends actually makes you healthier and takes that relaxing feeling to whole new levels!
Most important of all, they gently allow you to grow
Perhaps the most important reason why friends are the best emotional support we can have, they allow us to grow on our own terms. True friends don’t push you into change. Sure, some may nudge you if they’re worried that you’re veering down the wrong path. Sometimes we need that nudge, right? Fortunately, friends know how to give it without turning it into a shove.
Since true friends accept what we’ve become, we can feel free to grow without worrying about outgrowing them. In fact, our truest friends are those that we can grow away from without ever losing them. We all have that one friend who we talk to maybe once a year but that we’d be there for in a flash if she needed us (and vice-versa). Such a deep unbreakable bond reminds us that we’re never, ever alone.
When you put it all together and reassemble Shakespeare’s quote, it’s easy to see why friends are the best emotional support we can have. They know us and the road we’ve taken to become who we are. They accept that person. They’re always there for us, no matter what.
In other words, they stand by us and we, in turn, stand by them. There’s no better emotional support than that.