40 Lessons at 40

Lesson #36

By Venus Souls

Growing up, my family moved around a lot and as a result I changed schools quite often. Fifteen schools in sixteen years of compulsory education to be precise. This, as you can imagine, had a profound effect in my ability to form healthy and sustainable friendships. It also helped me develop a unique worldview on relationships that has helped me become the good friend that I believe myself to be today.

I believe that we exist in a delicately interwoven labyrinth of stories that cross over and dissect in a complex and sophisticated system that allows each story to flow seamlessly without interrupting another. As a result we are all connected through our stories either through overlapping characters, settings or plots (this is why I love Mexican telenovelas so much – the absurdity of fate and destiny is taken to an extreme because it’s condensed but ultimately that is life!). Each one of us is a hero on their own journey and within that journey, we are creating mini stories full of settings, plots, conflicts, and most importantly, characters. Each person comes into our life playing a certain role and often times that same character could play several roles at different stages of our story.

I learnt very early on in life that God loves stories. It’s pretty obvious.

Let’s go back to the characters that play out in our stories: the obvious roles are played by someone we call mum and another we call dad – these are the first two characters we meet if our story has a traditional start – the equivalent of ‘once upon a time’. Then there may be sibling characters, cousins, grandparents, etc. Our world gets populated with various characters playing various roles very quickly. These dynamics and relationships are the first to shape our identity blueprints.

Then friends enter the scene and for some reason, a lot more energy surrounds these characters. We learn to invest in these very early in life. We learn we must share time and space with them, even toys and – gasp – food. We learn that many boys like to pull your ponytails at playtime and that girls like to play with barbie dolls and My Little Ponies and if you don’t have any you’re not allowed to play with them. The politics, even at that age, were toxic.

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”


C. S. Lewis

Friendships are truly like ships. They will either carry you to a great destination or they will drown you. In social terms, we were always told to choose our friends wisely. In fact, my parents tried very hard to choose my friends for me but I was too headstrong. In business terms, leading economists tell you that your income is the average of your five closest friends. If I wanted to raise the standard of my wealth, does that mean I’ve got to go rich people hunting? I don’t think I could call these ‘friendships’. And I definitely don’t think that’s how stories work.

There are different types of friendships depending on the roles they are playing in your story at any one stage in your life. I’ve categorised them as follows:

Your Biggest Fan

They are the one whom you would call your BFF. If you’re very fortunate like myself, you will have many of those. They are the people who lift you up, root for you, believe in you, will tell you when you’re not being true to yourself. They are the ones playing the lead supporting role in your story.

The Vampire

They are the ones who suck your energy. Their own energy in their own story is leaking and their challenge is to learn how to fix it, but in the process they become parasites and leech off other people’s energies for a while. It’s nothing personal; it’s just how their plot is unravelling on their own hero’s journey. You could give them a fish or teach them how to fish or simply walk away.

The Role Model

These are the ones whom you are their biggest fan because they show you how beautiful and magical you, too, could be. You aspire to be like them in whatever way that has inspired you. They inspire you to become a better version of yourself.

The Mentor

They are the ones you run to when you have a problem or need a second opinion, or need guidance of any sort. You trust them with your kidneys, your kids… basically your life. They speak and you are thrilled you have access to so much wisdom. It’s like God has spoken to you through them. You revere them and you see them as if they were somewhat mystical and have access to higher knowledge than you currently do. They are your light in a dark hour. Their words swirl in your consciousness like divine mantras and even years later, you still remember the words that changed your life forever.

The Tells-It-Like-It-Is Friend

We all need one of those. The ones who call us out on our bullshit. The ones who know us so well, they are not afraid to tell us when we are not being our authentic selves. They won’t tell you what you want to hear but what you need to. Many lives have been saved by this unpopular friend. They may not show it very well, but they care deeply and when we resent them for their honesty, we lose one of our strongest allies.

The Enemy

Aka the bitch or the c**t. These are among the best characters in your story. Without them, there is no story! The villainous roles they play are not easy so in the least, you must credit them for all the energy they invest in your story. They are the ones who bring you the gift of expedited growth and wisdom. Granted, they deliver it with much pain and suffering, but it is worth it.

Soul Friends

I am grateful to exist in the digital era. The internet has given us access and connection to people we would never have met even a 100 years ago even if we had travelled extensively. The internet has created new categories of friends and acquaintances whom have had a profound impact on our lives often before or even without meeting them in person! If that’s not magic, I don’t know what is. I have personally met people whom I could only describe as soul sisters and brothers with whom I share a connection that is simply ethereal. The connectedness and familiarity feels like we’ve known one another for many previous lives. They are people from all around the world and yet our friendship could be described as otherworldly. They are magical beings sent to us to remind us of how human yet how soulful we are. These are what we often refer to as our ‘tribe’.

I am grateful for each and every person who plays one of these characters in my story – sometimes they even play more than one! My story wouldn’t be as thrilling, magical, miraculous, marvellous or fabulous without them. I also sense the responsibility I share in other people’s stories as I do undoubtedly play all these roles on other people’s journeys – even if briefly. And although I am always trying to be intentional in my relationships, I know there must be times and occasions where I should have done better.

We all bring energies into our relationships and these energies reflect the needs we are looking to fulfil in each one. We connect when our energies somehow match; when our needs complement each other. The quality of our relationships depend on what we are willing to invest, contribute and give – conditionally or unconditionally. I have found that the most enriching, meaningful and lasting relationships I’ve experienced are the ones where I have loved them unconditionally and they have reciprocated. These people are the divine vein that runs through my life. 

It is when we are feeling alone in the world or in an hour of desperate need that we start making an inventory of who our friends are and start questioning the roles they play in our lives. Social media has made it too easy to simply ‘unfriend’ someone. The word never existed in the dictionary until Facebook came along. It’s also true that the older we get, the smaller our circle of close friends becomes. It takes years of experience before we are able to fine tune our own frequency and to identify our flock or tribe whose frequency is in tune with ours.

To all my friends. current and past: what a journey it’s been so far! It would take lifetimes to tell all the stories we’ve created in just one! Thank you for the colours, the costumes, the parties, the masquerades, the thrills, the chills, the adventures, the tears, the sweat, the blood, the joys, the frustrations, the anger…. thank you for all the flavours, the genres, the themes, the plot twists, the conflicts…

We created the stuff of myths and legends because I walked with gods and goddesses. 

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Posted by thesoulsurgeon

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