Life sometimes feels like a chore and a necessity we have to trudge through and oftentimes, we tend to ignore the emotional value our friends add to our lives in pursuit of what the Bible calls material things. We are told to cut off friends that seem to add no value to our lives or contribute to our growth in the way we know to measure it. But what even is growth?

Growth is never-ending and uncomfortable. Growth is personal. Something we have to consciously strive towards. Through the never-ending process of growth, I have learned not to always think of myself; which is hard. When I was much younger, I used to be insensitive to the needs of others, placing my immediate needs above every other person’s. I was always at the fore of my mind and thoughts. But I have come to learn that growing is not something we do alone. And to become emotionally aware; and this has become an important part of my friendships.

One of the things we are guilty of is not properly categorizing the people present in our lives. We tend to want to isolate a person and always lay our burdens on them. Expecting them to shoulder our pains without considering if they were in the right state of mind or if they were capable and even willing. I watched an episode of Real Housewives of Lagos where Laura Ikeji called Chioma Ikokwu her friend and Chioma vehemently refused, calling Laura a good customer. I imagine that perhaps Laura had felt confused or even humiliated and it would have played out differently if we understood that not everyone plays the same role in our lives.

I love my friends. A friend of mine once told me he had friends he goes to whenever he needs an escape from his problems. I feel the same way. I have realized that I possibly cannot talk to Amarachi about the same things I talk to Favour about. With Amara, I have grown to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. The dynamics of our friendship is something I have come to love. In these days of the ongoing ASUU strike, I have watched myself become overwhelmed with emotions. Fear in the unknown, failure in getting a job. It was one of those days my friend said they would get a job for me. I did not know how much I needed to hear those words.

I talk to Favour once in a blue moon. And when our conversations happen, I admit that absence does make the heart grow fonder. The distance that has been created means nothing. We talk about anything and everything. And the times we hadn’t spoken bears no mark on our friendship.

When I make mistakes in matters of the heart, I have my friends to pick me up. It is such an amazing thing to know people always have your back.

David has the best music recommendations. He knows just what one can listen to, sad or happy or mad. With Joseph, I have learned to take Zlatan’s “overthinking no fit solve problem” advice more seriously. I have learned to laugh and indeed, make lemonades out of lemons. I can be crumbling with imposter syndrome and I have Dami to let me know I can do anything and everything. With her, I feel inspired. With her, I receive the strength I need to forge ahead.

Identifying the different personalities and strongholds of the people around me has helped improve our relationships greatly. It helps us to know which friends are best suited for certain topics. I used to feel bad when one of my friends needed me for only emotional responsibilities and not the fun part of life. But I came to realize that that was how she found solace in our friendship.

“To my mind, having care and concern for others is the highest of the human qualities.”

-Fred Hollows

Humans are emotional beings. We all need somebody to lean on. Words of affirmation are often perceived as unimportant but saying just the right words when we need it the most lifts our spirits. Having the right words said to us makes us feel like conquering the world is a snap of a finger away. And compartmentalizing our friends might seem hard and unachievable. But we are consumed with the desire to hone our skills and become better people and the desire to be better stretches across every aspect of our lives. Including intentionality in our friendships. We must remember to be each other’s keepers.

Our friends are people we choose that influence decisions we make, paths we choose to follow, and hold our hands through it all. When intentional, friendships are beautiful.

I read a newsletter that reminded me to appreciate my friends. This is me saying thank you for the days I was scared and needed reassurance and knew the person I needed to talk to feel better. On those days I needed music or book recommendations. The days I needed to rant and called you on the phone, and you answered. For the times you looked out for me without my knowledge and the times I was aware. And for the times I made selfish decisions, thank you for never leaving my side. I am sorry for not always being there but I promise to do better. I love you. I hope you get to read this and know I need each and everyone of you.