This song is from the musical Wicked and it is one of the only songs I know that truly portrays the sentiments between two close friends. While listening to it recently, I came to understand something about friendships that I had been struggling with before. The song is all about how a good friend can influence you and this influence leads to change. However, a friend cannot "change" you. You change yourself based on how you've been influenced.
Similarly, when seeking advice, a friend can be there for you and advise you, but cannot actually solve anything. A friend can be a guide but it is you who has to take that final step to internalize all the guidance you've received and use it to direct yourself back to the place where you want to be. It's always a struggle when you turn to your friends for help and find that while they're helping you, you feel better, but then the feeling doesn't last. This feeling of disappointment and renewed stress comes from the expectation that your friends are the ones who will be able to make things better for you, when really only you can make things better for yourself.
This is not to say a person is alone. Not at all. It's like in stories when the hero goes on a difficult journey and has friends helping along the way - sometimes along the entire way. But there is always that crucial moment at the end when the hero has to step up and overcome the final challenge on his/her own. The hero always has to take one extra step further than anyone else, but the friends are there to cheer the hero on, give guidance, and to receive the hero with open arms when the final task is completed.
Essentially, change and growth are strongest when they come from you, but the pain of the struggle can be much soothed with the support of friends.
Friends are like the safety net which catches you when you fall off life's balance beam. True friends are there for each other as much as they can be. True friends care about and look out for each other, and they have their friends' best interests in mind.
True friends are real.
Of course, there's always the question of how much a friend should invest in someone else. It's always important to remember to take care of yourself, not just your friends.
Sometimes, though, if a friend is particularly down, it's nice to have a reminder of that safety net. Sometimes you may feel very alone, even if you have many friends surrounding you, and it is during those times when it's nicest to hear the words, "I'm here for you." Just those words alone, the knowledge that you are not alone, that your friends are there with you and supporting you and even holding your hand a little, can give strength enough to overcome struggles, and to overcome them on your own. Being aware of your support group - of your safety net - takes away a bit of the fear of falling, because you know there is something there to catch you should that happen, and once that fear is gone, it becomes much easier to plow forward on your own. It is also kind of nice to know there are those who truly care about your success.
But how strong is friendship, really? Often it happens that we become out of touch with those who were once close to us, or sometimes friends just grow apart - or even have a falling out. Does this make friendship fleeting? I agonized over this for a little while and came to the conclusion that the above situations do not A. decrease the value in the friendship that used to exist B. mean those friends don't still think about each other from time to time C. mean those friends don't still carry a part of each other that once influenced them (or continues to influence them) and made them such a part of each other's lives.
If you are close enough, chances are you will have a lasting impact on someone else's life, even if it's something really small. Friends leave traces of themselves in each other. What a person does with these traces is up to them, how a person changes is up to them, but the fact that the impact is there cannot be denied.
Anyway, this song is for all those I've become close with over the years, whether I'm very close with them at the moment or whether I'm no longer in touch with them at all (of course, the lines about parting don't apply to people I'm currently friends with, since it would be very sad to think of permanently parting with them, but they do apply to those I'm not sure I'll see very much of again).
May we all surround ourselves with the right people - the ones who help us to grow and whom we help in return. The ones who leave positive lasting impressions on us. It's hard not to feel insecure sometimes, as I'm sure many people feel, and hope that my friends are there for me, even while knowing that of course they are. I guess I just really hope, no matter what, that I have grown and continue to grow and that I have the strength to be able to face every new challenge with confidence, and I wish the same for all readers of my blog, whether I know them or not.