WWSI: Meaningful friends vital for high school success

In a time when social media has taken over making and connecting with friends, it can feel like there is a layer of facade over friendships. Making authentic connections between friends is essential for mental well-being during high school.


Tatiana Randolph

Spending time in person with friends to build memories and bonds is necessary for creating meaningful friendships in high school, which is a critical developmental time for teenagers.
Creating meaningful bonds can be a challenge, especially when social media makes it easy to create superficial relationships.
This can leave teenagers feeling unfulfilled and lonely.
This loneliness is increasingly confusing when we feel connected with people on social media.
The solution lies in the past.
Returning to simpler times for friendships can help restore normal boundaries, space and connection.
Spending time with people in person is favorable for a number of reasons.
First, it creates real memories, memories of quality time together, not just on a phone call or a text.
Secondly, it creates boundaries.
After spending time together, we leave and can have personal space.
Those boundaries get blurred when “spending time together” through Snapchat, FaceTime or messaging.
Conversations can go on and on to no end, but no actual meaningful talking or bonding is done.
When spending in-person time together, people are forced to develop social skills, which many teens struggle with following the pandemic and living in the age of social media.
Spending time with people in-person forces quick responses.
When people text about difficult topics, it is easy to take your time responding and give it lots of thought.
In-person conversations force us to grow as conversationalists and become better at handling difficult topics.
While spending time together with friends, one can learn how to become a better companion for the person they are hanging out with.
We can learn how to cheer our friends up when they may be feeling sad, or what not to say because we know it may irritate them.
In-person time can make us more thoughtful, considerate and empathetic toward our friends.
This time together and the lessons learned from it, can strengthen bonds with friends that we already have and also help in forming new friendships.
In many high school friendships, friends struggle or refuse to show each other affection.
However, showing that we love and care about our friends is crucial to both strengthening and maintaining healthy friendships.
When we are able to openly display the appreciation that we have for our friends, they will reciprocate it back, making us feel appreciated.
Also, having the ability to express our feelings with friends can be beneficial when we are going through our own rough patches.
If we show our friends that we are there for them in their times of need, they are going to want to assist us through our difficult days.
With all the stressors of modern life, it becomes important for us to have a person that we can find comfort in, and by expressing the love we feel towards our friends, we can keep the people in our lives who offer comfort.
The first step to creating these meaningful friendships is destigmatizing showing affection.
Helping people feel comfortable being affectionate towards their friends will facilitate more love exchanged between friends.
Stigmatization of friendly affection is most seen in friendships between men.
Often, society tells men that they need to “man up” and can’t be emotional, especially with other men.
This contributes to men’s mental health problems by isolating them.
It is just as important for men to say “I love you” to each other as it is for women to say it.
Talking about emotions or stressors with friends can help us process emotions.
This is a valuable component of friendship that men often feel they lack.
Most of life we mask our true personalities.
Masking is putting on a show for other people to be more socially acceptable or comfortable.
While masking can be helpful for things similar to job interviews or presentations, it is essential to be able to take the “mask” off. Being by yourself is one way to rest yourself.
The best way to rest though is to find friends you don’t need to mask with.
Finding these people means that you can be your true self while also socializing.
Spending time with friends can be just as restful as spending time alone when you don’t have to mask.
This is important because we often need to have conversations about real, important issues.
These conversations warrant authenticity and we can’t mask for them.
It can be scary to be raw with people, but is necessary for growth.
Dealing with problems in isolation can end up causing damage to our well-being.
By letting down our masks around our friends, we can spend more time with our true selves.
Allowing ourselves to let our guard down in social settings can make us become confident in our true personalities instead of the facade we put on to fit in.
Becoming more confident in ourselves during our day-to-day lives will make us feel more comfortable tackling any problems we may face and becoming more socially adept individuals.
As friends, it is important that we love and support each other.
When a friend is looking to have an authentic, meaningful conversation with us, it is imperative to listen.
Active listening and supporting each other are essential for friendship.
When friends reach out, we should do our best to be responsive.
When we need help and reach out, we should hope they do the same.
Set the tone in your friendship by showing affection and working to support them.
Inquire about their day and show interest in their life.
This can help people feel less lonely.
The point of friendships is so that we don’t have to face our problems by ourselves.
Let’s show our friends that we are there for them.