Friendship Tenets

Caspar David Friedrich, Moonrise over the Sea (Mondaufgang am Meer), 1821, Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

Caspar David Friedrich, Moonrise over the Sea (Mondaufgang am Meer), 1821, Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

Tenets of Friendship in the friendship theory of everything by Ava

  1. You accept that in choosing who you spend time with you choose who you are.
  2. Almost everyone who’s unhappy is unhappy because they feel isolated. The best cure for isolation is a strong friend group. So much of happiness is having someone you can get a last-minute dinner with on a Monday night, or ask to water your plants while you’re gone for a week. The opposite of loneliness, as it were.
  3. You try your best to move to where your favorite people are. You do not agonize over whether this is, in fact, The Best City in the World. You do not Complain Relentlessly about Everything You Dislike About It. You simply suck it up and accept that if you like the people around you, everything else will work out.
  4. You ask your friends to live close to you, though you accept that they might not want to. You say, Let’s all stay in California together. I want my kids to grow up with your kids.
  5. When you value friendships more, they also get more fraught. I think this is what Rhaina Cohen referred to as "the problems of having community versus not having community." When we ask for more from friendship, we also get more disappointment, conflict, mismatch. There is no such thing as closeness without friction.
  6. Befriending people who are good communicators can make you a better communicator. Befriending people who are trustworthy makes you more trusting. Secure attachment can be a learned thing.
  7. People will have periods when they disappear; people have times when they let you down. When you know someone for many many years you will have so many ups and downs. As with any kind of love, the most important thing is that you both keep coming back.
  8. It’s okay to pursue and cherish romantic love, but sacrificing platonic love for it leads to disconnection and atomization.
  9. You show up: you go to your friends’ birthday parties. You ask them to read your writing. You make an effort to make nice with whoever they date.
  10. Your friends will change you, even in ways you initially reject. That’s a good thing. You will acquire new opinions and hobbies; you will find yourself into uncomfortable situations; you will learn to like the people they like.

Some more quotes from her blog that resonated

On the friends she's made in SF

My friends are all pretty anti-authoritarian, willful, dogged, and cheerful—as B said, "The type of people who believe they can fix the world’s problems through sheer force of will." I think my favorite thing about them is that they’re all very creative. In the literal sense that many of them write and make art, but also in the sense that they’re very good at solving problems in unorthodox ways.

The friends I met here were inventive, thoughtful, friendly and generous. They were nice to me without expecting anything back; they invited me to hikes, happy hours, house parties. They wanted to be helpful about work. They wanted to make the world better. At 19, they were so smart, and so impervious to irony. They were hopeful; why shouldn’t they be hopeful? They had built nuclear reactors in their basements, they had gotten perfect grades at MIT. 10 years later, my friends’ ambitions have both been realized and tempered. Many of them now either run or work happily at successful businesses; almost all of them have now lived through extreme work and personal life disappointments. They are doing what they want to do, and they have discovered that it is hard.

On meaning and work

My friends all believe that meaningful work was crucial to a good life. That was surprising to me when I first moved here. I wasn’t ambitious about work in the sense that I expected to be fulfilled; what mattered to me was survival, reassurance. Those were my parents’ values, and the values of the community I was raised in. Though I’m sure most of them were also hugely motivated by ego, validation, and financial success, I could also tell that they genuinely cared about liking what they did

people affect us a lot

"romantic relationships/best friends/therapists are critical for the same reason, where this person can become the primary person who explains you to you, the supplement to your internal monologue, and can rewire your understanding of yourself for way better or for way worse.

Friendship is a form of redemption

Like many women I’ve always loved Sex and the City, which is a show that is sometimes about sex, and sometimes about the city, but mostly about the friendship theory of everything. It’s about how it’s critical to have people in your life who love you and see you when you’re fun and sparkly and on top of the world, but also love you when you’re stagnant and petulant and self-sabotaging and letting them down. It’s about how that kind of love makes you believe in other kinds of love. It’s about how the essential texture of life is, yes, maybe a little in the shoes and a little in your apartment, but mostly about who you call to complain about a boy. And then they complain to you about their parents and then you tell them about the movie you want to see on Wednesday. It’s about how no one tells us that friendship is a form of redemption because even if work goes wrong and your boyfriend dumps you if you have people who believe you’re going to be okay you believe that you’re going to be okay.