How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst?
I think true friends never cease to exert an influence on how you see the world. I have never had a large number of friends who looked at life in exactly the same way I did, and nor would I wish that to be the case. As a result, there has been something to be gained from their alternative perspective at every turn. However, it would be dull to try to list every single thing I have learned from every single friend this year, so I give you the magic of the number three…
Friend 1 has shown me that temper tantrums achieve nothing but bad feelings all round. I think I used to think they were quick and effective solutions in situations that annoyed me. Now I know better. This realization has been a combination of short, sharp shock effect and longer-term confirmation.
Friend 2 has helped me (and others) keep dissatisfaction in check. Her personal and professional life has not been all that stable recently and she has a small person to look after, too. My niggles are positively luxurious by contrast with her far more existential worries. It only took one oblique comment from her – and not one that was meant accusatorily or even directed at me – for this to hit me like a ton of bricks, but every time I am about to complain about something, I hear her words again and frequently hold my peace as a result. I do hope that 2011 will be kinder to Friend 2.
Friend 3 has brought to light inner strength and courage I didn’t know I had. This is something that has developed slowly over months, with occasional relapses into my former kneejerk “I can’t possibly do that” reaction to new challenges. Gentle persistence, a positive attitude and unending patience on the part of Friend 3 have rubbed off on me and I find I have much greater resources of these myself when it comes to approaching challenges and difficulties old and new.