Every decision you have ever made in your life has led to this moment, so you may as well keep reading until the next sentence. You are most likely a loser.
Now, don’t start doubting yourself; it is actually a scientifically proven fact. If you have ever felt that your friends have more friends than you, you are probably right. If you have ever felt that your friends are more talented, you are probably right.
A sociologist named Scott Feld decided to do the research back in 1991, and it still holds true that, when compared to your friends, you often fall short. His research neatly came together in a paper titled “Why Your Friends Have More Friends Than You Do.” Essentially, it made the inkling in our minds a true fact written down in ink. In general, we often fall short when compared to our friends.
The reasoning behind us being inferior actually makes a lot of sense and is a very simple explanation for our lack of abilities. Essentially, you are more likely to choose friends that have more friends than you or seem to be more talented than you. The result is you feeling inadequate in comparison or beginning to have a competitive attitude toward friendship.
When I saw the paper, I realized how I had never actually thought so competitively about my friendships. Comparing myself to my friends is not something I would ever do, but this article made me feel slightly more self-conscious about my friendships. What if, when people saw me hanging out with my friends, they compared me to them?
Then, I realized that having fewer friends or feeling inferior is not at all the point of friendships. Friends are supposed to be a group of comforting people who stand by you; they give you lots of laughs and make you feel comfortable. Friendships shouldn’t make you feel bad about yourself. Instead, friends should help each other become better people as they grow through collaboration rather than the competitive feeling that Feld’s article suggests we develop.
Friends seem to always know what to say or do when comforting you. Even when you feel like you may never smile again, they can make you laugh hysterically.
Honestly, friends are the people who you can sit in complete stillness with and never have to think about something to fill the void of awkwardness because you are completely content in your relationship. You don’t feel the need to say empty words or make empty comments because you know that your relationship has meaning.
I am so grateful to have so many amazing friends, but I have never compared myself to them or competed with them. Our friendships are not meant to be a game where we play until we are beating them; it is meant to be a relationship with someone who can make you laugh but can also have a serious discussion with you.
Over the past few weeks, I have had to make some difficult decisions, and I knew that my friends would want to be there to help me and ensure that those decisions didn’t feel as hard to make.
If competition becomes a part of friendship like Feld suggests, he may need to rethink his friendships because I wouldn’t trade anything in the world for my friends. We should never view them as our competition or mistake them for anything less than who they are. They are our best friends who want to take on the world with us.
Now, this week, as we return to school, I can’t wait to see my friends again. When schools were shut down in March, it felt like the year was never properly finished. Over the summer, we found ways to safely visit. Now, heading back to this school year, it will be a chance for us to continue to develop our friendship in different ways with different challenges.
I can’t wait to take on this year with my amazing friends. Together, we will play the game of life, not trying to compete with our friends and play until we win separately. We will play until we win together; you and your friends should be game-changers in a world of people getting played by their hardships.
Emelia Richling is a sophomore at Northwest High School.
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