Good friends enrich our lives in so many ways. Through a magical combination of similarities and differences, friends offer us the opportunity to know ourselves as we are and help us grow into who we want to be. Our similarities attract us to each other, comforting us with familiarity when we see ourselves in them. When we are drawn to those we admire, the same recognition is at work, unconsciously acknowledging that these people possess qualities that we ourselves possess. By acting as mirrors, friends help us define who we are by reflecting our selves back to us.
Friends also help us know ourselves through our differences. Differences allow us to see other options and make choices about who we want to be. Sometimes we are drawn to those who appear to be our opposites, and we learn to accept the parts of them we love and the parts of them that don't resonate with us, thus allowing us a valuable learning experience. By expanding our understanding to include others' experiences, friends help us accept others. By understanding when someone's life differs from our own, we can learn about ourselves in contrast. There are times when we see in friends what we don't like about ourselves. That mirror reflection may be hard to take, but a good friend helps us find ways we can change and supports us in that choice.
Part of the joy of friendship is the feeling that we are accepted just the way we are, with no need to change. It is a gift they give us, and one we can give back every day. Ultimately, we choose friends because they make us feel good about ourselves and life. Through tears and difficulties, friends help us find the laughter. When we find those special people who offer us that perfect combination of comfort and stimulus to grow, we are very fortunate. Friends, those wonderful companions that walk with us through life, help us define and refine who we are and who we choose to be every day.