It’s OK to need your friends. It’s OK to lean on them, cry to them, or just rely on them to make you laugh when you need it most. It’s also OK to feel like you’re relying on a friend more heavily than they’re relying on you, but what is important to realize is that that’s often not actually the case and even if it is, that’s OK too.
Friends are a gift, not only for playing games with and teasing each other, but also for supporting and loving each other. You know how people talk about someone who is a “fair weather friend”? That’s normally not a compliment, to say the least. Now, it is totally possible and often highly rewarding to be friends with someone who’s just not the touchy-feely kind, but a friend who ceases to be supportive as soon as things get rough is pretty widely recognized as not the greatest friend. So...why would we care about what they’re like when things get rough, if we weren’t going to take advantage of their supportiveness and actually benefit from it? To me, this seems like pretty clear cut proof that it is not only OK but expected that we, as a human race, will lean on our friends in times of suffering just as much as we will in times of happiness.
Going to your friends for help is NOT a weakness, I can’t say that enough. Saying it is is like saying that getting medical attention when you injure yourself is a “weakness”! No, asking for help is never a weakness, it is a strength. Knowing what you need and asking for it can be one of the hardest things for us to do, but it is so important, and emotional help from friends is just as important as medical, educational, or work-related help. I know this isn’t the greatest example because there are already some unfortunate stereotypes about mental health problems out in the world, but think of it as if you needed a therapist: people would encourage you to get one if it could help you. So, shouldn’t that be enough a reason to also reach out to friends when you need them? People don’t need to be diagnosed with an official disorder to still need help sometimes, and whether or not you also have a therapist, friends do serve a slightly different and yet still incredibly important purpose. They can also just be an absolute joy to be around, all seriousness aside (correct me if I’m wrong, but it’s probably pretty rare to just get together to hangout or play games with a therapist), and… they’re a little easier financially xD, I’m in no way trying to advise against a therapist for people who need them (please don’t think I am!), but I’m just saying that friends can be good as well. So no, never let yourself or anyone else tell you that asking your friends for help (or not asking and just striking up a random conversation when you need someone to distract you–I’ve definitely done that before!) is a weakness, because it is just not. End of story!
OK but what about when you feel like you’re constantly leaning on your friends, but they don’t seem to need you in the same way? Well first of all: I have experienced this myself, so you’re definitely not alone in feeling this way! However, there are a couple things to keep in mind when you feel that way:
“Unfairness”/”Unevenness” is only in the moment. It is quite possible that in a given period of time, your friends really don’t need you in the same way as you need them. Maybe you’re going through some hard times in your family, struggling with school and stress, or just going through puberty and having a lot of mood swings, and maybe your friends just aren’t dealing with anything much at the moment. If that’s the case, it’s only natural for you to be relying on them a bit more heavily! It doesn’t mean that they don’t love you as much as you do them, and it doesn’t mean that you’re being “too needy”. All it means is that you’re going through different things and different stages of life.
And yes, sometimes your friends will be going through a hard time too, or maybe they were in the recent past and you remember that they didn’t seem to need you in the same way. That happens sometimes, I’ve certainly had it happen to me, but again...it’s not a reflection of anything about you or your friendship. Sometimes people just process things differently, and that’s totally OK! Maybe they journalled, talked to their family, or even just drew strength from the fact that they had you, and didn’t need to actually talk about what they were going through. Those are all perfectly valid coping mechanisms that work for a lot of people, but it doesn’t mean their friends are any less important to them.
Oh and another very important thing to keep in mind? Your friends want to help you! They may not always know the best way to do so–I’m not going to tell you that they’ll always be able to understand exactly what you’re going through and exactly what can make you feel better, because quite honestly, do we even always know that?–but that doesn’t mean they actually don’t want to help. I can speak from experience both as the friend who helps and the person who has gotten help from friends, they want you to be happy. One of the worst feelings is to have a friend who you feel like you can’t help...I’m sure a lot of you have been in that position before, and can relate when I say that it is not fun. So, if it could make you both feel better, why ever not?! Let me tell you, I have some friends who would be pretty devastated if I was going through a hard time and didn’t mention it. Not because their own feelings would be hurt, but because they would feel guilty for not knowing and being able to offer support. To be clear, if you don’t feel like telling your friends something, don’t ever feel pressured to (honestly they wouldn’t want that either), but please, please don’t feel like a burden who’s distracting them from what they “really want” to be doing. if they’re real friends, they truly will be there for you!
I should also mention that there are a few occasions when a friend will be going through a really hard time and probably shouldn’t have anything more added to their plate, so do be careful about that when deciding who to go to for something. At the same time though, sometimes it can really make a person feel good to be able to help a friend despite what they themselves are going through, so don’t be absolutely certain that because someone’s going through a hard time, they don’t want to help you. You can look for warning signs such as them appearing in worse shape after talking about your issues, or them not being able to really comfort much, but you can also just ask them! Don’t be accusatory or anything (“What, so my troubles don’t matter to you? You’re too caught up in your own life to care about me?!” is probably not the nicest way to go, just fyi ;), but just tell them that you understand what it’s like to be going through something rough, and so you don’t want to overload them. Chances are, whether it is too much for them or not, they’ll be grateful that you thought to ask ;)
Alright I hope this helps at least some of you feel better about asking your friends to help, because it can really do wonders for your mental health/emotional wellbeing! Please feel free to PM me anytime if you need someone to talk to about anything, my inbox is always open! Sending love and support to you all <3.