January 30, 2016

Friendship theory.

There’s a question I ask myself, at least once or twice a year, that makes me pause and reflect: when something big, good, and exciting happens in my life, who do I want to tell, immediately?

The first obvious answer to that question is my wife; she’s the first person I want to tell about everything, no matter how trivial. I often bombard her multiple times a day with messages about little things I see, do, hear, and read. She, with her unending patience, never complains about my propensity to want to share everything, all the time.

Apart from her, the answer changes regularly. People come in and out of life, and even for those who remain, the intensity with which we communicate fluctuates depending on time and place and context. It’s a question worth revisiting regularly, just to see how life, and relationships, change over time.

Liz Danzico recently shared a passage from Ben Horowitz’s The Hard Thing About Hard Things:

No matter who you are, you need two kinds of friends in your life. The first kind is one you can call when something good happens, and you need someone who will be excited for you. Not a fake excitement veiling envy, but a real excitement. You need someone who will actually be more excited for you than he would be if it had happened to him. The second kind of friend is somebody you can call when things go horribly wrong—when your life is on the line and you only have one phone call. Who is it going to be?

The first question is an easy one, a question that most of us probably think about fairly often. The second one, the question of who to call when things go completely wrong, is a harder one to answer.

Perhaps it’s my reluctance to ask for help, in general, that makes it difficult for me to answer that last question. When things go wrong, my first instinct is to tell nobody until I make things right. This is unhealthy behaviour, I’ll quickly acknowledge, but it has been my modus operandus for most of my life.

My goal for this weekend is to reflect upon that last question. Apart from my wife—I share everything with her, so she is the obvious answer—who are the people I lean on when things aren’t going my way? Who would be, if I allowed myself to ask for help? Who is that second kind of friend for me?

Who are those two kinds of friends, for you?