What is a friend?

Is it a person with whom you share interests? Someone that you can have a laugh with? People who make you feel safe and included? Sure, I think friends are all those things but there’s also something else, right?

With certain friends there’s a deeper connection, a resonance that tells you that this person is important to you, maybe understands you or helps you to understand yourself in ways that are unique to your relationship.

This connection goes deeper than shared interests and experiences and, in my experience, can actually be strengthened by diversity. Someone who can give you a deeper understanding or help to safely expose you to experiences and narratives that you were unaware of before, someone who can empower you, and be empowered by you, into celebrating differences; that’s the sort of friendship that will survive superficial disagreements and misunderstandings. Someone who will enrich your life and your mind.

I’m lucky that I have many of these friends. People who make me think, challenge me whilst supporting and empowering me. I hope I do the same in return.

I didn’t always have these friends. In fact, it’s only in the last six or so years that I’ve found such deep, rich, inspiring and empowering connections. These are now people that I couldn’t imagine my life without. They’re my tribe, I feel my connection with them in my soul, vibrating in my bones.

It’s not our similarities that strengthen this strong connection, it’s the ways in which we differ.

Find friends who make you think. People who challenge you by inspiring, supporting and empowering. Those who offer a contrast to your view, whilst loving you for yours anyway.

Sometimes we need an echo chamber for our self care and mental health. But, in my humble opinion, it’s only by finding true connections with those different to us that we find the friendships that can stand the test of stress and time.

Debi Gregory