What do you think of when you consider the term "friend"? Do you think of somebody who stands by you in fair weather and foul? Is a friend somebody who follows you around, agreeing with you and offering shows of support at every turn? Or is a "friend" somebody who believes in you; who has your best interests at heart, even when it means telling you something you might not wish to hear?
There are probably as many different definitions for the word "friend" as there are friends in the world. After all, everybody has a different idea of what a friend is to them.
Some people want their friends to agree with them all of the time. Those are the people who want to hear they're right even if what he or she is doing goes against most people's better judgment. (Isn't it strange how those people never make mistakes?) They only want to be surrounded by "hero worshippers." You know the type. "Hero worshippers" never seem to have an opinion of their own. They're always in agreement with whoever is willing to speak for them. It isn't that they're clueless or don't have the ability to form an opinion. They're just afraid to voice it lest they chance "losing their friend." A hero worshipper is not a true friend to his or her subject of adoration; they're just a fan. There's a big difference and you'd do well to recognize it. A "fan" is useful to someone like a music artist or a thespian; they're complete rubbish to the average guy or gal who would fair so much better for having a few really good friends in his or her midst.
A true friend is somebody who doesn't always agree with you but will stand by your side in good times and bad. Someone who will, if they think you're headed down a path of wanton destruction, pull you aside and calmly tell you you're being a git! (Okay, well -- maybe they wouldn't quite put it that way but a real friend will sure as hell let you know when you're simply being bullheaded and preparing to do something that CAN'T end well.) They'll respect your individuality but will calmly attempt to give you a different perspective to consider. They'll do so with your own best interest at heart and not a care of what is in it for themselves.
Real friends, another word, tell you like it is! They'll take the chance that you'll see they are not trying to pull you down or create problems but rather, only trying to do what will give YOU the best chance to succeed in life - or to stay healthy - or to avoid a path that's certain to leave you really, really sad.
If you've got friends like these in your life, you're a rich man or woman, boy or girl.
(But if nobody has taken the chance to tell you you've been behaving like a little git lately, don't despair. You probably STILL have some really good friends in your midst. They just like the entertainment value of what you've been doing and recognize your actions aren't really going to cause any lasting damage or physical pain.) Sorry, couldn't resist. You knew I had to say something to lighten the mood and make you smile after all this serious talk!)
At any rate, look around you. Are you surrounding yourself with people you would call real friends and are you being a true friend to them in return... or are you all just bobbing your heads up and down and saying what everybody wants to hear? Don't be the fan or the hero worshipper; go out on a limb and take the lead by setting an example. Be true to your friends. Be genuine. Be authentic. Give a damn about the people around you and (trust me) they'll give a damn about you. If you are reading this as a "bulletin" here on MySpace, it's because you're on my list of friends ... and I care.
(If you didn't receive this as a bulletin ... or I didn't personally direct you to this page, I'm still very glad you made it here. I hope you find the message to be of some use to you as you continue along this journey we call Life.)