One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood.” — Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Roman philosopher
One of the primary drivers behind the things we do is the need to be understood by others. Likewise, one of the greatest frustrations is to feel misunderstood.
That’s the biggest draw to social media, the ability to express yourself in a way that you hope translates into other people understanding better who you are — and you believe that if they really understand you, they’ll like you.
This is a struggle that begins soon after birth. The need to be understood and the need to understand others. It starts with our parents, then our siblings and other family. By understanding who they are, we try and piece together our ideas about who we are. Once we believe that we’ve figured out who we are, then we start trying to get the other people in our lives to see us the same way that we see ourselves.
Eventually we start venturing out of the house, to school especially, and when we do, the task of trying to understand and to be understood becomes so much bigger. It becomes so big, in fact, that it feels overwhelming when we’re kids.
But the only reason it feels that way is because we’re trying to understand and be understood by everyone. It isn’t until we become adults that we realize that we can’t be understood or liked by everyone, which makes the select few we do understand and who understand us so precious in our lives.
We call these people friends, and that mutual understanding binds us to each other in bonds of loyalty that can never be broken — at least, not until they surprise us and reveal that we didn’t understand each other as much as we thought.
But until then, treasure your friends. They are the validation of who you are. Their ability to understand you proves that you exist outside of your own mind. And that’s something you can’t possibly put a value to.