The Value of Rational Friends

As predicted, I’m feeling significantly better today than I was yesterday. I had a long talk with a friend, played Wii Zumba with a housemate, and got a full night’s sleep last night. I’m still incredibly full of anxiety — I can feel it bouncing around inside of my skull right now trying to find an idea to latch onto to be anxious about, and I can’t say for sure that I won’t be back to how I felt yesterday tomorrow – but for now, at least, I’m out of the everything-is-hopeless headspace I was in yesterday, and hopefully one step better armed against it than I was before.

I want to talk, at least briefly, on the incredible value in having friends who are capable, realistic thinkers. I’ve talked about having insecurities with respect to my depression being too heavy to handle before. It’s a significant issue, so I’ll probably end up talking about it again in the future. When I originally wrote the first “Needing People” post, partially about that, a friend of mine volunteered to have every-other-weekly get-togethers to check up and see how I was doing and offer support if necessary. A decent portion of those get-togethers, I’ve been dealing with some stressful life event or another. In spite of the fact that, as she, herself, reminded me a couple of times, the idea of implementing these get-togethers was specifically about giving me support, I still found it easy to be apprehensive that by needing that support during most of them, I was going to be too heavy a friend.

We talked about this again yesterday, and I expressed that same fear, and she responded by telling me that this wasn’t something she had decided to do blindly. That she had considered, in making the offer, that the worst-case scenario was that it would consist of nothing but giving me support every single time we did it. That she had considered that, and decided that it would be handleable for her.

I believe her. What’s more, I don’t just believe that that’s what she did, I believe that she almost certainly did it well, that she did it cognizantly, with full awareness of what it meant.

I can’t think of a better example of what it means to be a mature adult than this. To be sufficiently aware of, first, the fact that that kind of worst-case-scenario assessment is important to make when offering this kind of support, and, second, to be sufficiently aware of how many spoons that commitment may cost you to make an accurate assessment of whether or not that worst-case scenario would be a manageable commitment to make. It’s a combination of self-care and care for others that I see most often in the people that I most respect.

It makes trust so much easier. It’s so much easier to trust someone who says they can offer you something when you feel like you can trust that person to know whether or not they are offering something that they are genuinely capable of following through on. It’s one thing to want to be able to offer something, and another to be able to rationally assess whether you really can. It’s a nice thing having friends who care about me, who want me to do well, and who worry when I’m doing less-than-well. Even in having that, though, I don’t know what I would do without friends who can think clearly and well about what that caring means and how to act on it in the real world.

I’ve talked about reason as a moral obligation before (usual credit to JT Eberhard at WWJTD for the original post on this). I think reason is absolutely vital for acting morally in the world. On this smaller scale, I think it’s just as vital in interacting with the people we see day-to-day. Knowing yourself, knowing others, and seeing the world as it is doesn’t just mean that you act better in a grand, making-the-whole-world-better sense. It means that as one person interacting with one other person in whatever simple way is needed right now, you make that tiny but no less meaningful world better, too.


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  1. Pingback: Disambiguating Trust | Research to be Done

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