The Profession of Friendship

If you’re looking at the title of this post with confusion, I don’t blame you. I was puzzled, too, when I put out a mad lib on social media recently that asked for a professional title, and someone responded with the word, “friend.” I found it odd and didn’t use it in the game’s solution because other contributions fit better with what I wanted, but I kept going back to it in my mind.

In my rumination, I came to realize that friendship could, in some ways, be viewed as a profession. Of course, you don’t—and shouldn’t—get paid for it, nor does it typically bring the strife a job can, even if it has its tough moments. While true friends don’t keep up a relationship under duress like they would with holding down a job, friendship does require each side to hold up their end, or else it risks termination.

‘Friend’ has become pretty loosely used nowadays, with social media marketing it unlike it’s ever been conceived in the past. I’d be lying if I said I’d never accepted a friend request from somebody I haven’t met in person. You can have thousands of so-called friends from every corner of the world, without speaking one word to them. Some may prefer it that way, and if you’re one of them, I’m not here to judge. My point is that the term doesn’t always mean what it once did, diluting it in a way that can have an adverse effect on our relationships outside of cyberspace if we aren’t careful.

 Back to my mad lib: friendship is a title, but most of us wouldn’t deem it a professional one for the reasons I mentioned earlier. All too often, though, I think we, myself included, forget that it’s a title that has to be earned and maintained, much like a professional one. For instance, someone may graduate with a doctorate in medicine, allowing them to put “Doctor” on his/her letterhead from that day forward. But what if they don’t practice for a long time or never practice after school? Would you hire him to be your provider?

Similarly, we need to work at true friendship if we want to retain that title. Professional titles, no matter how fancy, refer to the position you choose to have in a workplace. Professing to be a friend refers to the position you choose to have in someone’s life. It isn’t an inactive moniker, unless we’re just interested in having friendships in name only. Rather, it takes ongoing effort, and you have to show up for it, even if it’s not five or six days a week like a job demands.

Granted, we’re all busy, and whether we intend to or not, we’re bound to lose touch with even close friends. Despite how many means of communication we now have at our disposal, this world isn’t wired for promoting deep relationships that go beyond a simple thumbs-up or an exchange of a few words. It keeps us too immersed in what we, ourselves, have going on to be concerned with others.

That’s why we have to put in the effort and keep ourselves in check as to if we’re living up to that privileged title of friend. A true friend won’t give us a job evaluation and knock us for areas where we’re failing, so we need to do that for ourselves. A lot of times, both people have room for improvement, but we can only do our part. Like in the workplace, though, good coworkers motivate each other to perform better. While you won’t get a raise or dock in pay, you’ll earn a wage that far outweighs any salary.

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