Friendships, particularly for teenagers, can often be a blur of good times, parties, hanging out, deep and meaningful chats and shared interests and experiences. However there can also be a darker flipside to many friendships, including things like peer pressure or indirect bullying. The transition to high school and becoming a teenager can often be an isolating one. The desire to have close friends to help you through such an overwhelming time can lead to misjudging which friends have your best interests at heart.
These people, masquerading as friends, will be the ones who encourage you to take risks and call you names for not joining in. They are the ones who abuse your trust and don’t keep your secrets. They will feel the need to cut you down to size, rather than build you up and they are sometimes difficult to spot.
Jonathan Beninca had many friends like these. They are the ones who would encourage him to drink that extra drink, or stay out just a bit longer rather than take the lift home that was offered.
After a night out drinking with these “friends”, Jonathan decided to catch a train to the next suburb. When he arrived at the train station he realised he had missed the last train. He then jumped down on the tracks and started walking.
The first train of the morning found him passed out on the tracks after a rock he had thrown rebounded and cracked his skull. Unfortunately the cracked skull was the least of his injuries after being run over by that train.
“I learnt through my accident that a real friend will speak up and say something if we are doing something wrong,” Jonathan said.
“A real friend won’t encourage you to binge drink, take drugs, or take short cuts across the train tracks.”
None of the friends Jonathan was out with that night visited him in hospital; all they cared about was having a good time. The people that had told Jonathan that his drinking and behaviour wasn’t ok and encouraged him to take care of himself turned out to be his real friends. They were also the ones who took the time to visit him in hospital.
“A real friend will look out for you and will tell you what you are doing is wrong,” he said.
“Sometimes we don’t like to hear what we are doing is wrong so we become defensive, but these are the people who are really looking out for you.” Jonathan had to learn this lesson the hard way. The advice he’d share is simple – be a good friend, look out for your mates and don’t let a serious injury be the way you find out who your real friends are.