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Real Talk for Teens: The High 5s of Friendship

Talking about Friendship

courtney with 3 friends

I spend many hours discussing friendship with teenagers and young adult clients just like you. Additionally, I spend lots of time talking about friendship with my own friends. Friendship is a part of life that takes constant attention, care, consideration, and effort.

Last month, I was home in New Mexico and had the opportunity to visit with some of my middle and high school friends. We talked about the challenges we’ve faced as friends throughout the years, the moments of uncontrollable laughter, and the work it takes to stay connected over time.

The High 5s of Friendship

All of the talking with my friends reminded me about the High 5s of Friendship. Specifically, these are 5 tips and insights about friends that I like to share with the young people I work with. Here they are:⠀

1. Consider friendship flexible.

Said another one, friendship doesn’t fit ONE definition. You can have various types of friendships– friends you study with, friends you talk to on IG, friends you play sports or chess with, and so on. Furthermore, friendship is always growing and changing and a flexible understanding of friendship can help you honor this. ⠀

2. Become familiar with your WANTS and NEEDS.

For example, you may have a need for humor and a particular friend might make you laugh until you’re crying. You might want to have accountability in volunteering at a local pet shelter; you might connect with a friend who is interested in this work as well. When you are clear about your personal preferences, it will be easier to find people to align with. Additionally, you will feel confident in drawing boundaries if a friend is violating your needs.

3. Trust your feelings, and talk about them.

You and your feelings deserve to take up space, and I encourage you to find ways to process and explore your emotions. For instance, you can share within the relationship, with trusted adults like a life coach or teacher, in a journal, or anywhere else you feel safe. If you are feeling hurt or angry about a friend leaving you out, write it out. If you are feeling excited after a fun day with a friend, name that emotion and enjoy sharing about it with a family member.

4. You always have choices and options.

Friendship isn’t a requirement for everyone you meet, and there’s nothing wrong with staying acquaintances, growing closer, or becoming more distant across time. If one particular friendship becomes distant, know that you have so many opportunities to make new friends or strengthen other friendships. The world will never run out of friends for you to connect with over time. Moreover, you get to choose which friendships you want to invest in.

5. Everything will be okay.

Even when it feels like it won’t. Keep practicing and growing your understanding of #1-4. I believe in you, and I am confident that you will connect deeply with yourself and with friends throughout your journey.

Beyond the High 5s

As you continue to reflect on the topic of friendship, you might enjoy exploring a gratitude practice, recognizing the friendships (and so much more) that you appreciate; better yet, you can begin a gratitude practice with a friend.

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