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Friendships and the importance of maintaining them
Resources: Youth Talk, Personal Stories, Mental Health, Wellbeing
Friends certainly make life more fun and better in many aspects. But good friendships can also improve our physical and mental wellbeing.
Friendships and the importance of maintaining them

Welcome to our Youth Talk Blog, a section dedicated to youth lived-experiences with mental health and wellbeing, with weekly blog posts from diverse young people’s perspectives. This is a positive, fun and resourceful space, showcasing young people thriving and connecting with healthful activities, resources and support. This post has been written by Jess, our Community Education intern, who is a 22-year-old psychology student.

A quote I love to think about is ‘you are who you surround yourself with.’ This, from my own experience, I believe rings true. I am who I am not only because of the experiences I have had, but also because of the people I have gone through these experiences with, and the people I spend so much of my life with on a day-to-day basis. I believe a strong reason I have discovered my own identity more since moving out of my family home, is because I have been able to surround myself with a lot of different people. Especially moving to a place like Auckland and coming from a small town like Gisborne, arguably, there are a lot more diverse people to be exposed to. I have made friends who are all different, and still kept close ties with friends I had growing up in high school.

I found it is great having people in your life who are all different, this naturally adds more richness to life and your relationships as well as being able to understand different people’s perspectives. At first, a common worry when making a big life change, and moving somewhere far away from those you love, is that you will lose those relationships. For me, I think it was important to not put pressure on myself and my long-term close friends for maintenance of the relationships. We still manage to talk and catch up every now and then, but realistically, it is not the same as seeing the person every day, and this is okay. Whenever I go back home or see these people again, it’s like nothing has changed and we roll back into our own groove and enjoy each other’s company even more and catch up with each other’s lives. This is what is comforting of a true friendship. 

As for people in my day-to-day life, I am considered to have strong extrovert tendencies, and if you are anything like me, I thrive off being around my friends and doing things together. It is what makes my day and boosts my mood. Whether it be 2 close friends or 10 of them, having these human connections and relationships is all essential to our wellbeing. 

It is important to have friendships to experience life with others by one's side. In my experience, friendships can be made off similar values and backgrounds or they can be made from meeting someone different to oneself, and this encourages learning new things about them and their life. Either way, friendships grow from experience, whether it be high or low points in one's life, which is why it is important to have these people with you to support you along the way. It is important to know and I have learnt this myself, that true friendship involves honesty and acceptance of each other’s flaws, as well as being there for one another through triumphs and failures. It is important to savour these real friendships, as it is these people that will support you no matter what. 

In fact, studies have shown that being in healthy friendships can enhance physical and mental wellbeing. These social connections boost our mood and therefore our mental wellbeing. They help us keep us strong and resilient, and can help us make better life decisions. And studies have also shown that surrounding yourself with good friends can help change your outlook of life. These facts further back up my own claims and experience. I hope this encourages those reading, to reach out to a mate and possibly go for a coffee or catch up. We all need these connections to flourish. 

Further reading and resources