When A Friend... Needs A Friend

As the old Toy Story song goes; ‘you’ve got a friend in me.’ Georgio Platias answers the question with no real definite answer: what do we DO when a friend is struggling?

Image Credit:  Unsplash

Image Credit: Unsplash

There is a voice that doesn’t use words. Listen.
— Rumi

Probably the most important thing, be a fresh pair of ears. Hear your friend out and let them get everything off their chest. Simply, just sit and listen. Someone who is struggling won’t necessarily want to talk about their issues so don’t put ‘too much’ pressure on them to talk. Don’t lecture them or tell them how to live their life, or butt in with your opinions – just let them talk.

Think, how many times have you had a problem and all you needed was to just rant to someone? How many of those times did you feel better just telling someone? At the first sight your mate isn’t themselves just have a conversation. Try and let them bring up what’s bothering them on their own, if not just ask them in a way you know they would respond. Don’t be brash, and definitely don’t force it out of them – just be like ‘hey, what’s up, you know I’m here to listen if anything is bothering you’ – it goes a long way.

Learning to stand in somebody else’s shoes, to see through their eyes… it’s up to you to make that happen.
— Barack Obama

Next thing to do, put yourself in your mate’s situation. Try and understand what they are struggling with. Process the information they tell you, show compassion, and most importantly be empathetic. After all, you guys are mates. You have built your bridges of trust, you know what the other person is like. Be the mate that recognises what’s going on. Initiate a positive dialogue and try to see the situation through your friend’s eyes.  Avoid telling them what to do, you don’t want to make the situation worse so tread carefully if the matter is a serious one. With that, don’t tell them only what they want to hear either. Traverse the situation they are in and use some common sense. Ultimately, think if the situation was reversed how would you want them to help you if you were struggling?

Try to be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud.
— Maya Angelou

The person who is struggling is your friend, so why not try make them happy? Distract them, help them, but most importantly, guide them. We’re all human and there is only so much we can do for our friends – however, make the ‘only so much’ mean something. I look back to last year when I had quite a few things going downhill, and to be frank, struggling. Long story short, I remember finding solace in the company of my friends. They were there for me. They listened to me, no matter how big or small the issue was. Be it a hug, a drive around town, an impromptu coffee, a midnight phone call – they were there. So, if you friend is struggling pay it forward, give them time and let them know you’re by their side through thick and thin. Give them something that, even momentarily, lets them forget about what’s going on in their life.

What makes a desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.
— The Little Prince, by Antoine De Saint-Exupery

Finally, for who are struggling. Talk. Don’t be afraid to open up to your friends, your family, whoever. Don’t bottle things up – that harvests nothing good. Life is full of ups and downs, a roller-coaster ride of sorts, but it’s up to you to place yourself in a position that will bring the best for you. I get it, I’ve been there, we all have, the world feels heavy and the motivation depletes. We wrap ourselves up in our blanket of emotions, our anxieties, our brief moments of struggle. But remember, that is what shapes us. They are the lessons to which we write the next chapters of life. Be strong, be courageous, and look for comfort in your friends. If they push you away, well they aren’t your friend. With that, don’t suffocate your mates but don’t stigmatise yourself that you’ll be annoying, or burdening them with your problems. We all have the capacity to talk, we all have the capacity to be kind to one another.

Georgio Platias is a third-year Communications (Journalism)/Law student. He loves to talk all things life, politics and philosophy. You can usually find him with either an iced mocha or glass of whiskey in the gaps of studying, reading or writing something.