When everywhere else in the western world, Valentine’s day is used for celebration of lovers and significant others, in Finland we celebrate friends. Valentines day is even translated to Ystävänpäivä which roughly translates to Friends’ day. Friends are often life companions in a way that romantic partners can never be, and it is more usual to lose a significant other forever than losing a friend. Friends give you a sense of belonging that isn’t always found elsewhere.
A very close friend can feel more like a family member than those you share the same DNA with. We are taught to love only our family and romantic partners unconditionally but personally for me, unconditional love in friendships is much stronger. It doesn’t mean you have to tolerate everything, it doesn’t mean you can’t fight or that you always get along and want to be in each other’s company. When you love someone unconditionally, it means that you’ll get past all the bad things and usually you do it together.
When talking about romantic relationships, the advice usually given is to first be happy alone and to be happy with your life and then when you find the right person, he/she is a plus for this already amazing life. The same should be the base for a friendship: You should be able to be in your own company and be responsible of your own happiness and then you add friends and they make your life incredibly more awesome. This doesn’t mean a real friend brings only good to your life, no person is capable of that, but when you summer up the good and the bad, there are a lot more of the good.
Every relationship is different and there are all kinds of friendships and friends that are “useful” in their own ways. There is that one friend you study with, the one that’s your family, the one who you party with, the one who knows all your other friends, the one that knows none of your other friends and you need all of them. Not every relationship is the same and it’s okay not to “use” them the same way.
You can find friends everywhere and it is possible for everyone to find one. And everyone deserves to have a trusted friend who is there for you even when everything else disappears. Our society is so fixed with finding a romantic partner that there are speed-dating events organized. The same could be done with friendships: you sit down for a few minutes, introduce yourselves and talk about whatever comes to mind. And then you move on to the next one. In the end of the evening, you might end up with multiple possible friendships.
I’ve known all sorts of friendships. Those that hit like a lightning and you realize you’re never going to let this person go, who feels like a long-lost family member. Those friendships that starts in unexpected circumstances, like when someone is drunkenly hitting on you and a year later, that person is one of your closest friends. There are those you meet through other friends and in the end, they end up being closer to you than the person who introduced you ever was. There are even those that end up being something else than friends.
Sometimes it’s good to dedicate a day or a weekend only to celebrate your friendship. When thinking about the closest people in our lives, friends are the ones most taken for granted. When making plans for this Valentine’s day and the weekend after that, it’s important to remember and be thankful for the friends in your life. The best feeling in the world is when you’re overwhelmed by everything in your life and then you can go to your friends seeming just as tired as you are and then even a half an hour later, you’re feeling completely different. Or you feel just as tired and you just take a nap together.
Writer is a guild active who is enormously grateful for all the friends in her life.