Every friendship is unique.

Comparison is a dangerous vice that occurs all too often in our life. And sadly, it seems to be a common stumbling block to hundreds of other young people as well. It’s poisonous influence seeps into a many aspects of our life and our friendships are no exception.

We are blessed to realize that we have some real friends in our lives and love many different types of friends that we have met at every step along the way. We have dear childhood friends, cherished friends from our days in high school, long-distance friendships that formed as a result of summer endeavors and new beloved college pals. And that list is far from exhaustive.

But amidst all the joy that goes along with having such wonderful people in life, it is frighteningly easy for us to compare these relationships to each other.

It looks a little something like this…

“Wow, I had such a good time playing games today with Friend A. But yesterday I had coffee and talked about life’s deepest questions with Friend B. But last week I was in tears laughing with Friend C!”

Our mind starts running at 100 miles per hour, wondering why we don’t talk about Karl Marx’s theory with Friend A, or why Friend C and I never watch thriller movies together, or why Friend B doesn’t make me laugh until my sides hurt.

But this is such an unhealthy approach to our friendships.

Instead of appreciating the elements that make each of our relationships so unique, we focus on what we are supposedly lacking. Our critical mind chooses to pick apart our friendships and become worried when we perceive a flaw anywhere.

By comparing Friendship A with Friendship B, we do each of my friends a serious disservice. We would even go as far as to say that we dishonor them. This ugly habit of comparison causes us to completely disregard the invaluable bonds that drew us to each of those friends in the first place.

Why would we want our friendships to all look the same anyway? How boring!

I sometimes like to think of my friendships as being a tree. Without trying to sound arrogant, I am the metaphorical trunk, and the branches are my friendships. While all the branches look similar because they are attached to the same trunk (me!), they each spread in different directions and have varying shapes and sizes of buds or leaves scattered all over. And in my opinion, if all the branches were the same size, grew in the same direction, and had the same pattern of leaves, it wouldn’t look like a tree at all; at least not a healthy tree.

You may notice that your friendships change from year-to-year — the best friend you had last year may not even be in your inner circle anymore. It happens more often than you may think, and studies have been done that prove the theory that the older you get, the fewer friends you have.

So let’s encourage each other to stop this vicious habit of comparing bonds, relations and friendships.

A popular quote by Theodore Roosevelt is “Comparison is the thief of joy.”  And while the quote is somewhat overused, it is unquestionably true.

So let those branches grow in all kinds of crazy directions! Step back and admire your beautiful, unique tree. And keep the pruning tool of comparison far, far away.

As you can see, friendships evolve over time for all kinds of reasons. The important thing is to focus on the friends you do have and make sure the friendships are reciprocal, so no resentment builds on anyone’s end.

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