Disclaimer: I am not the world’s best example of a good friend. I am not even a good example. But I could point you to several. I also apologize in advance for the rambling nature of the opening paragraph. Not this one. The next one. Sorry.
When I was younger, I took to heart Enid Blyton’s well-meaning advice that if you wanted a friend you had to BE one, and I was somehow convinced that I had to change into whatever sort of friend I thought the people around me wanted, which led to a host of self-esteem issues and not a little identity confusion.
One of the things I used to do most often was force myself to be interested in whatever my friend at the time was interested in: slash fanfiction? Yeah! Indie music? Bring it on! YOUR lord and saviour Jesus Christ? More like OUR lord and saviour Jesus Christ, amirite? And all of that meant I was never short of people to talk to. But it also meant that I always felt like a fraud, and I had to work hard to seem interested in something I really was not all that enthused about. But I went through with it because I was afraid my friends wouldn’t like me if I didn’t like the same things they did.
It is a good thing to be able to talk to people about their interests, but I didn’t need to misrepresent myself just to make friends. In the long run, I don’t think any of it was worth the paranoia of rejection that plagued me when I thought about coming clean with them. It was all so unnecessary. And it retrospect, it really wasn’t that big of a deal.
But I learnt two things from the troubled teen I was in high school.
One is that pretending to love something just because your friends do never pays off. (And by extension, it’s never cool to force your own preferences on your friends. Music, books, movies, and TV shows are all a matter of taste. And it’s so much more fulfilling to find people who genuinely share your tastes than to be disappointed when your friends don’t like something you recommend).
The second thing is that I am probably better off without people who will stop being friends with me just because I don’t like Fifty Shades of Grey (Game of Thrones, Hannah Montana, GTA5).
Although, I may have to stop being friends with YOU if you don’t like Harry Potter (Macklemore, Doctor Who, Pride and Prejudice).