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September 7, 2013

Looking Back: True friendship often means putting others ahead of yourself

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The Daily Star

---- — Most folks like to have a lot of friends. That’s nice. But then there are folks that seem to be lonely or just always by themselves. Perhaps they chose to be that way or maybe just don’t know how to be a good friend or know how to reach out to befriend someone.

I wondered: Was I one of these people? Which one?

Looking back, I can remember many friends during my lifetime. Many are not there anymore due to moving around, death or the friendship just fizzled out.

A long time ago, I decided to analyze myself and be a person that someone would want to befriend. It’s so comforting to know that you usually are liked. (I say “usually” for there are always exceptions to anything.) What really did I need to do? Good question.

It could be a question, perhaps, of personality. That seems to take a lifetime with changes to improve to the best of a person’s ability. I’ve tried to do just that.

Some years ago I learned three categories: Introvert, extrovert and ambivert. I assumed these dealt always with being outgoing and aggressive, or just wishy-washy, having a quiet “don’t care” or “not interested” attitude. I never really thought to zero in on the real definition, psychologically speaking.

All this was extremely interesting, for my thinking never gave a quiet or shy person much credence. Of course, that’s a choice, but to term it as “introvertism” didn’t seem correct.

The “ambivert” person is ideal: “A personality trait including both being extrovert and introvert in balanced qualities.”

I guess it’s all a matter of where your interest lies: Extremely interested in others (to the exclusion of self) or interested only in your own thoughts or feelings. (Those are the two extremes.)

Well, to make all this simpler — it’s always a good thing to do the kind thing, regardless of how you might fell. A good word is “congeniality” — having a pleasant disposition, friendly and sociable. (I try to use all that for a goal.) Wouldn’t that type of person attract people to be friendly?

Awhile ago I read an interesting article on “True Friends” and there was an experience related by a young person who had a self-sacrificing friend. It sounded too good to be true … but it was true, and can be.

Two young girls had been looking forward to attending a beautiful wedding along with all the hoopla. They had been planning on going for some time but when the date approached the young person’s mother had died and her memorial service was to be on the exact same wedding date. To her surprise the friend showed up at the memorial service to give her emotional support instead of going to the wedding. “I know she was a true friend,” she related.

That said a lot because a true friend will “keep seeking, not his own advantage, but that of the other person” (1 Corinthians 10:24). Now that’s certainly a very caring and loving person with qualities that I, for one, endeavor to try to imitate regardless of the “sometime” adverse circumstances.

It’s so nice seeing long-lasting, sincere friendships through the years. People seem much happier when “giving” instead of always “wanting” — thinking of self: “Me, I, and my.”

You do reap what you sow or as our farmers would say, “What goes around comes around.” Isn’t that true?

Elaine W. Kniskern is a 80-year-old resident of Schenevus and a grandmother of five. She can reached at elaine-kniskern@stny.rr.com. ‘Senior Scene’ columns can be found at www. thedailystar.com/seniorscene.