P.S. Positivity: On Making Time for Friends

By Sara Khan, Co-Editor in Chief

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I like to think of myself as a perpetually stressed person. This trait played an extremely prevalent role in my life during the past three (give or take) months of the 2018-19 school year. Overwhelmed with sports practices, a new workload, club leadership, and a job on weekends, I isolated myself from a large majority of my friends to make time for all the activities that I had to juggle. If one of my close friends wasn’t in my classes, chances are, I never saw them. As first quarter passed and the nights of reading past 2 am were a thing of the past, I began to realize that all the friendships I had formed over the course of high school were fading. After the tennis season ended, I realized that I had pushed all of my close friends out of my life. Embarrassed, I reflected on what it means to have friends. If I had continued to make time to talk to my friends, would I have done as well first quarter in my classes? Do I really need a support system? As an introverted person, I immediately assumed that I could handle everything on my own. Sure, spending time with friends can provide me with an escape from daily obligations, but what else comes from close friendships? As I pondered the subject, I decided to take to the internet to find my answers.

Harvard researchers reported that strong social ties could promote brain health as we age.

Rebecca G. Adams, a professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, said: “There is just scads of stuff on families and marriage, but very little on friendship. It baffles me. Friendship has a bigger impact on our psychological well-being than family relationships.”

In a six-year study of 736 middle-age Swedish men, attachment to a single person didn’t appear to affect the risk of heart attack and fatal coronary heart disease, but having friendships did. Only smoking was as important a risk factor as lack of social support.

As I continued my search, it dawned upon me that friends weren’t just a source of enjoyment when I needed something to take my mind off of homework, but rather a necessity for my health. Having someone to rely on when I’m feeling lost and confused can make the process of recovery much easier, and, in some cases, save me from falling sick under the pressure of dealing with everything on my own. Although I like to think of myself as an independent person, there is no doubt that going out of my way to talk to someone that I may not see on a daily basis can help them feel better and positively impact my life as well. It goes a long way to reach out to someone and check on them because you never know who might need some positive encouragement.

My friend Rishin (senior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology) likes to ask me the same thing every once in a while: “How are you feeling on a scale from 1-10?”

A few months ago, I would have interpreted this situation as someone assuming that I didn’t seem like I was okay because of how I looked or how I had been acting recently. Now, I see this question as an opportunity for me to reflect on my life and how I can improve or continue to stay happy. I encourage the rest of you to do the same. Ask one of your friends how they’re doing every once in a while. Stay close to those you care about. It’s okay to rely on friends for support.

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