Sometimes it takes a pivotal moment to help change your outlook on life. For me, it was the devastating events of Monday, 22 March, 2010. On this very day, a terrifying hail storm hit Western Australia, the worst in 50 years. There was extensive hail, strong winds and heavy rain; all of which caused damages to houses and property. One of the houses damaged was, in fact, ours. Our entire house – the living area, the dining area, the kitchen, the bedrooms, the laundry, the toilets, were all flooded. I was home alone with my 2 children at the time and felt completely helpless; there was nothing I could do. I could hear hail pelting at our house, the kids were crying, and the noise was absolutely terrifying. I took hold of my mobile phone and started thinking about who I should call to get help. That was when I came to the sad realisation – I didn’t have many people to call at all.
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As I rushed around looking for something to keep the water out, I cried because I felt so scared and so alone. My husband was still at work and the weather was too horrible for him to drive home anyway. I tried to get in touch with a few family members. I sent some messages to a few friends.
I remember going through my contact list and realising that I didn’t have many people in my life that would even care that our house was getting flooded. It was so sad to think that when you needed other people, there wasn’t really anyone to ask.
Luckily, my husband managed to get a few old friends from high school to come and help us clean up the mess. They used towels to soak up the water, emptying the water into buckets, then continuing this process over and over again.
We had no other choice but to renovate the whole flooring, because the water along with the dirt, had gone through the entire house and damaged some of our belongings along the way. For two whole months, we had to live elsewhere.
As the weeks went on, we would come back once in a while to see how the renovations were going, but it was just too sad to see your home in such a scattered state.
We needed people more than we realised
At that point, my husband and I had been together for 4 years. We were always the sort of couple that kept to themselves, spent almost every waking hour together, we enjoyed each other’s company more than anyone else’s. So we never found the need to have many friends – we had each other.
But the day our house was damaged from front to back, when our car was pelted with hail, when we couldn’t live in our own house; reality set in. We couldn’t do everything on our own. We needed people more than we realised.
No-one, no matter how emotionally strong, can go through life without a good support network. We all need help once in a while. We all need friends.
So why should we have friends?
When we surround ourselves with positive and caring people, they can…
- Lift us up when we are down
- Give us hope that things will get better
- Be someone who we can rely on and trust
- Help us to see things from a different perspective
- Encourage us to become better people
- Make us feel loved
Being a good friend
It takes time to build a good foundation for a friendship. All of us may lead busy lives, but we need to learn how to make the effort.
Here are lessons on how to make and keep friends:
- Make the first move. Sometimes being the first to offer help, suggest a day out together, or a night out on the town, shows that you’re interested. Some people are just a bit shy and need you to put your hand up first.
- Make time for them. Even if life gets busy, try to squeeze in a phone call, message, or just a quick visit to their house. All these efforts matter.
- Realise that it’s a two-way street. Don’t just take, make your own efforts too. Offer to pick them up from work, lend them $10 because they’re broke, or give them advice when they’re in a bit of a pickle.
- Be understanding. Don’t expect your friends to drop everything for you, life just gets busy sometimes. Have faith in your friendship and realise that by being empathetic and compassionate, you are doing your part as a friend.
- Forgive. We all make mistakes, so don’t let the little things ruin an otherwise strong friendship.
It’s good to have friends
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It has been almost 3 years since that hail storm and my life has changed dramatically. I now have a very supportive network of family and friends.
I am proud to say that I have friends that care about me enough to…
- Talk to me for hours because I need some advice
- Take my kids to school because my car isn’t working
- Look after my children, so my husband and I can go out for the night
- Bake my child a birthday cake, even though they’ve only known me 2 months
- Be incredibly supportive of my writing dreams
When it comes down to it, it’s good to have friends so we feel less alone, so our lives feel fuller, so our hearts feel loved. Make sure you surround yourself with people who you can laugh with, have a ‘deep and meaningful’ conversation with, who want nothing more than the best for you.
And remember, it’s never about the quantity of friends that you have, but about the quality.
So be friends with those who deserve your friendship.