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November 24, 2013

That’s What Friends Are For.

I’m sure there isn’t an English-speaking soul who hasn’t grown up knowing that Dionne Warwick song from the 80s.

That’s what friends are for.

But what is that ‘what’ exactly? What is it that makes a friend so special? What makes us love them so? What’s that extra special ingredient that can keep a friendship going through years and decades, heart-ache and heart-joys?

I’ve been having an especially loved-up few months, bumping serendipitously into people I haven’t seen since I was 12, reconnecting with old, old friends from all different parts of my life and making plenty of new, beautiful friends all around the world (largely thanks to elephant journal’s magnificent apprenticeship program).

There are the friends who knew me before any of us really knew what life was about, when we were only 10.

The friends who struggled with me through those strange and confusing years of high school.

The friends who leapt through adventures with me at university.

The very first few friends I made when I came back to Malaysia after nine years of living abroad.

The handful of til-death-do-us-apart friends who have seen me through the darkness nights of my soul and loved me all the way through it.

And the new friends, who are crafting and carving out new, lovely conversations and relationships with me as we each step into new chapters of our lives.

Friends! More than just being a shoulder to cry on, or a buddy for calling up in the middle of the night, or a gaggle of girls to be foolish/silly/wise/clever/happy/sad with—more than any of that, friends are valued and precious because they bring out the best in us and remind us of the good when we’ve forgotten.

Whatever few good qualities that I possess, I have because my friends have taken them, scrubbed off the dirt to reveal the gold beneath and shone them back at me. They are our beautiful reflections.

Last night, a bunch of old friends met up for dinner and messed about in front of this tacky wallpaper they had at the restaurant. We struck all sorts of silly poses at the camera, celebrating time together again after almost eight years apart. These were the very first friends I made at my first job after university—a time when I was at my strongest, most carefree, happy, beautiful-from-the-inside-out self.

Then, in between all the snorting and giggling, one of the girls spluttered out to me, “You haven’t changed one bit!”

I’ve been through a lot of sludge in those eight years, none of which she has known about. But in that moment, as we bounced off the walls and gabbled our way through dinner, I realized that the only reason this friend was seeing this supposedly unchanged me was because we were hanging together again. Me, being me; her, being her.

In just a few minutes, she had brought me back to that luminous, happy place I’d been all those years back; in just a few minutes, I was able to completely bypass all that old muck and be the best person I was during the best days of my life, all over again.

Friends bring us (back) to the most splendid places we have ever been to within ourselves.

They love us, no matter what, so that we too can learn to love ourselves and also, to love everyone/everything else in the most authentic, empowered, honest way possible.

For everything that we are, the best bits are all buffed and polished to the highest degree by our friends. And the best part of all? They don’t even know they’re doing it. Just by being them, they help us be us—our truest, most beautiful, loving selves.

That’s what friends are for.

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Editor: Bryonie Wise

{Photo: Author’s own}

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Anne Jones Nov 25, 2013 10:53pm

So true Jamie. My friends are my bed rock and always have been. In and out of relationships they have been a constant when life has tossed me about – confused ans unsure. For 25 years a group of us have met to party twice a year and these gatherings are the highlights of my year. We laugh so much it hurts. I feel every bit of tension leaving me as I play out my true self without any fear of criticism or judgement. X

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Jamie Khoo

Jamie has loved writing and words from the moment she started to read. After getting her MA in English, she went on to pursue a career in writing and has had her work published in magazines such as Elle Malaysia and Time Out Kuala Lumpur. Sick of being told by mass media and society what “beautiful” is or isn’t, Jamie founded the website a beauty full mind to challenge conventional beauty ideals and create new definitions and conversations about what beauty can mean for all of us today.

Say hello to her on Facebook or drop her an email at [email protected].