Friends for rent and an invitation to stay

SEUN CALEB 🧞‍♂️
3 min readMay 9, 2024
Photo by Womanizer Toys on Unsplash

I tend to be a hermit in social spaces. Meeting people is a chore and I don’t know what to say past pleasantries. I remember my first week in Uni; I didn’t become friends with my roommates until my friend, Wilson bonded with them. This was the archetype for most friendships I built through Uni; my friend fosters relationships and I come in as an add-on. It was like B29 and lotion, Frosties and Tony Tiger, buy one get one free. After a welcoming handshake, and a couple, of “How are you?” I retreat to the comfort of observing people live in the moment.

Then there came my active socializing on the internet. The web ties us together in more intimate ways than we care to try to understand. I could talk to people without knowing what they looked or sounded like. All you needed was a shared interest to weave your life into one big ball of yarn labelled ‘my guy’. I could now meet people and snowball into knowing them without the pressure of keeping things interesting on first contact. An interesting concept, right? However, there is a small detail we ignore with internet friends. Our importance pales in comparison to the people they have in their lives physically.

You have a pen of friends, but none to call your own. They hang out with their people and only have time for a quick chat in their downtime. As we grow older the need for companionship tugs at our shirt. You want to feel like you belong somewhere, to someone or people. To be known without prompting, to be understood in silence and to have people celebrate your wins regardless of how insignificant they seem. People who would wait until midnight on your birthday to shout Happy Birthday even though you think it’s silly. They do it because it puts a smile on your face.

To be a friend is to love unconditionally. It’s to look at someone and choose to love them every time the sun comes up, and that feeling doesn’t mar when it sets. Genuine friendship will make you naked. Sometimes you look at the work it requires from you, and you might opt to keep things shallow-safe. I will not blame you if you commit yourself to being a lone ranger; it is hard work being a good friend. Even the bible says “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly…”

A friend got into a fight the other day and was threatening to end her friendship with someone else, and I kept telling her to extend grace. Friendship will demand that you remain patient. It will make you confront things about yourself you’d rather keep in the closet. When I’m hurt, I remind myself that the magnitude of the pain we feel is usually reflective of the love we give, and I try to see things from the lens of that love. At the end of the day, blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy, right?

Wilsonl goes on to make friends, and I no longer come as an add-on. I’m learning to make my friends, not the type forced by sharing the same space, but genuine friendship. Something to symbolize a community. A good bulk of my friendships are still tethered online, and it sometimes feels like there are people who hold a larger sway to their hearts. But I know a day will come when I can associate people as my core and me as theirs; without them being a rented piece of media I need to return before the next group call.

We never know how memorable a moment would be while we are in it. But I hope every moment is part of the cloth that weaves into a tapestry around your heart.

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