ASKED BY: PATRICK
First of all, thank you for using the qualifier “bit of a” when calling me a celebrity. I am in no way a real celebrity in any way, shape, or form. I hate the f-word (fame) and I have always tried to avoid it, if I’m being honest.
Why bring this up? I suppose it could have something to do with my answer.
I truly believe that the more popular and famous a person becomes, the easier it is to feel completely alone in such a crowded room. Many years ago, I wrote a post called “Watching an Empty Pillow” which discussed the phenomenon of hundreds, and sometimes thousands, and sometimes tens of thousands of people commenting on something I wrote or on my life. Almost all the comments were incredibly supportive and complimentary.
At the same time, it was very depressing to have so many people tell me how awesome a person I was, and how good a human it was, just to go to bed every night and stare at an empty pillow next to mine. It’s worth the read, if you have a moment.
That being said, I have learned that crowds full of supportive strangers are not friends, and it doesn’t take any amount of fame to know that there is a difference between fake friends and real friends. You can be a person with only one real friend, while nobody in the entire world knows who you are, and your friend will be just as real as a real friend of mine.
So, how does one know what a real friend looks like? Here are some “real friend” litmus tests for you:
A real friend: “Hey, dingbat. Why haven’t I heard from you for a while? I miss your awesome face!”
A friend who isn’t really a friend: <crickets>
A real friend: “Tell me what is going on in your life lately, and don’t leave out a single boring detail! For real. I want to fall asleep because you share too much.”
A friend who isn’t really a friend: “Let me tell you about my life and never ask you a single question about your own!”
A real friend: “You doing okay since your breakup? I’ve been worried about you, and I can’t have you being all sad for life and stuff.”
A friend who isn’t really a friend: “That person was a total tool, anyway. I don’t know why you ever dated in the first place.”
A real friend: “How is it possible that we haven’t seen each other for six months and we pick up right where we left off! God, I love you. Let’s never go this long without seeing each other again”
A friend who isn’t really a friend: “We really need to hang out sometime.” Six months later: We really need to hang out sometime.” Six months later: We really need to hang out sometime. Six months later: <crickets>
A real friend: “That’s so frickin’ awesome that your work or business is doing so well! You deserve it!”
A friend who isn’t really a friend: “Hm. Cool.”
A real friend: “If you want me to support you never ________ in your life anymore, I’ve got your back 100%. In fact, you’ll get annoyed at just how little I pressure you about it.”
A friend who isn’t really a friend: “C’mon man. You can’t give up ________. We have so much fun doing that together.”
A real friend: “So, you did something stupid. Stop beating yourself up. You’re still awesome, you know.”
A friend who isn’t really a friend: “Why would you do that?” <crickets>
A real friend: “Hey, say no more. My kid drives me nuts sometimes, too. Just makes you human in my eyes.”
A friend who isn’t really a friend: “I’m the perfect parent, my kid is perfect, bla bla bla.”
A real friend: “Uh huh. And then what happened? Shit. Then what happened? Are you for real?! That’s so frustrating for you. Then what happened?! And then? And then?”
A friend who isn’t really a friend: “Well, life is what it is.”
A real friend: “I just need someone to talk to about this shit storm in my life. Are you free?”
A friend who isn’t really a friend: <crickets>
A real friend: “I have plans tomorrow night, but I can cancel them, no problem. We need some us time and you better return the favor when I’m having a shitty go of things because I’ll definitely need you, too!”
A friend who isn’t really a friend: ” I have plans tomorrow night. Let’s hang soon, though.”
Those are real friends, in my experience, at least. And I have many of them in my life.
Being a celebrity, or being an agoraphobe who is scared of his own front steps, has nothing to do with whether friends are real or not. Is someone a real friend? That’s part one of answering the question, and by far the most important step.
Part two of the answer is whether or not popularity or fame make it harder to make real friends, or the right kind of friends.
I honestly have no idea because real friends don’t just drop into your life out of nowhere. They just kind of become part of your life with time, and there was never a real question as to whether they just wanted to be around you because of what you could offer them, or because of your popularity, etc. All my real friends are just… There.
Do people come into my life who I know just want to meet me because of my big following? Sure. That doesn’t mean they can’t be real friends with time. Do people come into my life who I learn very quickly aren’t going to be real friends at all? Sure. And we don’t remain friends.
Real friends are real friends, no matter how popular or alone you are in this world. How easy you make real friends has nothing to do with your own social status, and everything to do with something much more important…
Are you a real friend to others?
If you are a real friend to others, you will more easily find real friends of your own.
If you are a friend who isn’t really a real friend to others, you’re going to find it impossible to find real friends.
There is no such thing as a one-sided real friend.
Some people make more real friends because they’re outgoing, or talkative, or extroverted. That’s okay.
Some people make fewer real friends because they’re shy, or introverted, or awkward at first. That’s definitely okay, too.
As long as you’re a real friend to others, you’ll make real friends of your own. That is what I believe about friendship. Which reminds me… I’ve got some friends I need to go checkup on.
In conclusion, just remember this little poem (author unknown) that I have always loved:
“I went out to find a friend and could not find one there. I went out to be a friend, and friends were everywhere.”
Dan Pearce | The Dan Pearce Was Here Blog