ART BY KAYTE CHIEN
By BELINDA KUO
Many believe that our true friends are the ones who show up in times of hardship.
Since our childhood, we have been taught to treasure such unwavering loyalty in friendships. For instance, elementary school students often trade mementos to symbolize their unbreakable bond and reinforce the promise that they will always support one another. However, as responsibilities pile up during high school, we are faced with the precarious dilemma: is it more important to remain loyal to our friends at the expense of our welfare, or to prioritize our welfare before others?
Ultimately, friendships are meant to be mutualistic. Even though spending time with friends is important, we cannot let it damage our own well-being.
Firstly, putting excessive amounts of effort and time into friendships may significantly reduce one’s own time to take care of oneself. For example, you may have a friend who always complains about his or her problems. As a loyal friend, you may sacrifice all your time in attempt to find solutions for those problems. However, with a Calculus test or English presentation tomorrow, you may be risking your sleep, grade or overall mental well-being.
In the end, all your efforts to preserve the friendship are counterproductive—in setting yourself back, you eventually have to prioritize yourself. A lack of mutuality ends up threatening both you and your friendships as you struggle to juggle the numerous tasks at hand and risk falling into your own mid-life crisis.
Furthermore, we must recognize that there is a fine line between loyalty and servitude; while loyalty implies a mutual understanding, where each person maintains a sense of individuality, servitude implies that one person is passively obeying to someone else’s every order. For instance, if there is a common occurence of a friend asking you for help but never having time to help you, that is NOT a loyal friendship.
In fact, our best friends are not necessarily the ones we spend the most time with, but rather the ones who are consistently honest, impartial and heedful. Even though the thought of having a friend who will never hesitate to assist you is comforting, both sides must consider each other’s schedules and limitations, as this is what true loyalty is.
In fact, if a friendship remains one-sided, a possible resolution is to cut off the parasitic relationship, thus saving you the effort of expending energy on an unnecessary and draining connection. Overall, true friends are those who do not hurt or exploit you for their own benefit.
Nevertheless, by no way is this a proposition to ignore our friendships when times get hard. Undoubtedly, your closest friendships are worth keeping and putting your effort towards. After all, our friends strive to be there during our darkest times, providing emotional support when we most need it; in return, we should strive to do the same. Rather, there should definitely be a happy medium between school and social life. First and foremost, you should spend time to finish your assignments before you offer to help your friends. Ultimately, if we are not happy ourselves, how can we devote our time and energy on others?