July 29, 2019

International Friendship Day

By Ashley Phillips

To be honest, when a colleague asked me to write this blog post for International Friendship Day, I had no idea this day even existed. Apparently it’s tried to get started several times over the 20th century: in 1919 by greeting card industries, again in the 1940s as a reminder of the importance of having friends,  in 1958 in Paraguay leading to the development of the World Friendship Crusade, and most recently by the United Nations in 1997 as an official holiday to be celebrated on July 30 of each year. It’s also celebrated across the world on the 1st Sunday in August (August 4 this year), so keep that party going all week if you want!

However, I’m not so sure that we can just choose a day and tell people to celebrate friendship. Friendship, to me, seems like a thing that happens over months or years of getting to know someone and allowing them to get to know us. One amusing quote about friendship states that “a good friend will help you move, but a true friend will help you move a body.” Take that as you may, there does seem to be a benefit to joining with someone in a team effort to get something accomplished.

Just the other weekend, my sister’s husband came over to help my husband cut down about 30 square feet of privet hedge and honeysuckle vine that had taken over part of our backyard. The amount of work they got accomplished in a few hours was amazing! Every time they would take a break to stand in the shade or drink some water, I could hear them chatting and laughing. These are two men who have known each other for years, have been through hard times and fun times together, and have developed a friendship – sometimes over video games, sometimes over lunch, sometimes over yard work.

I’m not saying you have to go find your neighbor with the overgrown hedges (although if they’re like us they’ll probably welcome the help), but there may be a person in your life who you realize you’ve gotten to know over months or years, and who you’ve let get to know you.

It can be hard during times of transition, like when completing a degree, to maintain friendships in the same way as before. You may find your time limited by the amount of studying you’re doing, or the number of clinical hours, or just lots of little things that add up. That’s okay. Friendships take time to build. They can be built one text or smile at a time. In the words of the UN Ambassador of Friendship, none other than Winnie the Pooh himself, “We didn’t realize we were making memories. We just knew we were having fun.”

On this International Friendship Day (or week), I’d encourage you to look around and take notice of the friends who have been around you consistently, or the people you’re just now getting to know who may become friends over the next few months or years.