Friendship is a strange thing. Especially as you get older and really begin your “life”. Like after college (or high school for some).
Friendship between females and/or females & males is a whole different beast, but today, I want to take a look at friendship between males. Bros. The boys. Ya know, “I love you man” type ish.
I have a lot of people I would call my friend. Maybe I could call them just to chat occasionally, maybe they would even help if I was in a bind. Maybe.
But there are not many people that you get to call a best friend.
My best friend is Josh.
I met Josh in my fifth-grade art class. I didn’t know over 15 years later he would be my best friend. I didn’t know that everyone else would mostly fade away, come and go etc, but he would remain.
We had our friend group in high school. It was about 5–6 of us with maybe 4 of us being the tightest. I wasn’t the closest with him — it was definitely my boy Tim. I mean, I even went off to Clemson University and roomed with Tim.
Josh and I spoke occasionally, but it could have been the beginning of the end… until I dropped out of Clemson to move back home.
After a year of living in little ole Sumter, SC again, I don’t even remember talking to Josh much at all. But for some reason, he was the only person I could think to call when I had the bright idea to move to Columbia, SC (the big city) to pursue music.
Hey man, you want to move to Columbia together?
Hmm, yeah man let’s do it!!
We moved into the smallest apartment I’d ever seen for $500 ish a month. The heat sucked. The AC sucked. But it was a taste of the real world for us too, we both believe it helped cement our friendship.
Going Through The Trenches, Together
I guess you can compare it to soldiers who enter into battle together or law enforcement partners who take on a life-changing case. When two people go through tough times especially in the formative years of their manhood, together, it’s hard to not feel a special bond with that person. We’ve got one life — and those years are beautiful in an ugly, weird way.
For the next two years, Josh and I really went through it, and we cherish those memories. Literally every time, we see each other we at some point we bring up the freezing cold nights where we could barely work up the energy to speak.
Or scraping any money up from our serving food aprons to pay rent. We went through broken hearts, frustrations, failures and so much more.
Then, we kept growing. We moved into separate places. Moved to different cities. Met more and more people, but our relationship only grew stronger.
Josh asked me to be the best man at his wedding. We made it a point to call, catch up and dig deep. We questioned each other — but never attacked with intense criticism. We believed in each other. Then, somehow I found an interest in his lifelong passion, running.
We started to run together. We ran a half marathon, a 5k, and attempted a full (We failed that time).
In 2022, he even flew out to Los Angeles to crash with me for a few days. For some reason, this trip felt like a turning point in our relationship. In the best way. For me, it was Josh coming into my world and me legitimately getting to give him a tour. It was special — and set us up for another decade of friendship.
It made me think about why we lasted as friends. What made us stick it out? The artist, rapper in Los Angeles & the dope AF, GOAT teacher in SC?
After chatting with him about it and thinking on it myself, I believe it comes down to three things.
I am not the best at calling / texting my friends. Especially in my early to mid-twenties. I was just so enthralled with my art and then with my hustle. I felt like I didn’t have all this time to force conversations and try to keep up with the MILLIONS of people I felt like I met from 16–25. It was exhausting. With me being an extroverted introvert, I only have so much time in a day to socialize, and I typically spend it calling my wonderful mama, investing in my girlfriend or keeping up with my sister.
I mean, damn, that’s a lot right there.
What I’ve realized as I’ve gotten older is you have to really choose the relationships you want to pursue and water. I have people that I love and care about that I don’t need to call all the time. I just call them once a month or two, and we catch up. There is beauty in that.
But Josh is not those people. There have been times, where at our lowest, we let our relationship get to that. But not only is he someone that wants more, he is someone that is willing to invest more.
And though I realize that I’ve let my hustle, art and love for women control most of my time equity in life, as a 29 year old man, I also realize I crave relationships with my brothers now more than ever. I want a bro. I want my boys. It matters.
Even when I didn’t know this about myself, Josh never gave up. He would always call my shit and challenge my to return the call. Joking that I’m too busy for an old friend. Now, either time any one of us misses a call, there is shit talking voicemail. Love it.
When I saw his consistent effort, I was inspired to do the same. Now, we are constantly checking in with each other, showing love where we can and shit talking where we can too.
Giving effort shows you care. All I want is a friend that really cares. It’s all you probably want too.
I’ve seen Josh at his lowest. Josh has seen me at mine. We’ve never been afraid to come clean on our fears or our struggles. I’m not sure why, but there never seemed to be real judgment. And if there ever was, it came in a way of seeking understanding.
We are two dudes with both a lot of ego and a lot of humility. It shines through in our conversations. Maybe the fact that we understand this about each other and respect each other’s power, lets us let down all the walls to speak vulnerably. Without being ridiculed.
I notice this a lot in relationships between men. There’s so much joking. I mean, I love jokes, but too much joking is bad. I actually think I’ve faded away from certain friends because they would never break the barrier of shit-talking jokes. It’s extremely exhausting.
Like I tell Josh, no one talks shit to me more than myself. So no need brother.
This may be Relationship 101 material here, but I make an effort every conversation to LISTEN first. And, when I need to speak, I feel like he listens too. Super vital.
How are you? How ya feeling? How’s your wife? What’s work doin’ to ya?
First off, I hate talking to someone who isn’t listening. I would obviously rather not talk and just do something else with my time. Or speak to someone who wants to listen. Aka that’s why I love Youtube, podcasting, and writing. Someone out there is bound to want to listen!
Actively listening to someone you care about can legitimately change your entire relationship with that person. That’s why it’s important to talk when you are actually able to pay attention and be present. This back and forth of words is the foundation to really hear and be heard by your friends.
I think ultimately all of these things are about showing your care about this person, their opinion and their life. I’m just thankful Josh gives me all the things that I give him. A bro. A conversationalist. A teacher. A listener. A friend.
I love you, man.