A love letter to friendship: the antidote to loneliness

Travel Editor Beth Robson shares her thoughts on friendship, and the love she has for her friends at The Courier

Beth Robson
19th March 2020
I started off my 'career' as a writer for the Courier this year with an article about toxic friendships. Hurt from previous failed friendships, I was apprehensive to make new friends. What I did not know was that over the coming year I would make friends with some of the most amazing people I have ever met.

Often overlooked in favour of romantic or familial love, the love between friends is, in my opinion, unmatched. The Ancient Greeks had a phrase for the intensity we feel for our friends; 'philia'. Unlike with 'pragma' (long-lasting, or romantic love) and 'storge' (familial love), the Ancient Greeks use of 'philia' represented a feeling of self-sacrifice and camaraderie for your friends. In modern English, the best translation would be 'true friendship' but that doesn't really come close. As a graduate in English Language, I know full well that there are words in many languages that we could do with in English; 'philia' is one of them. Yes, this phrase has been... co-opted... in English to denote seedy behaviour, but the original meaning of the phrase shouldn't be lost! If the Ancient Greeks (literal pioneers of modern Western philosophy) recognised the importance of friendship, perhaps we should too.

After all, friendship is good for us; there's even science to back this up! Numerous studies have found that friendships are key in the maintenance of good mental health and have positive influences on our self-worth and self-esteem. Having gone through a brief bout of loneliness during my time at university, I can vouch personally for the life-changing affects making friends in the office has had on me. According to a survey conducted by Sodexo almost half (46%) of students in the UK have felt lonely at one point or another during their studies, compared to the global average of 32%. Loneliness is also incredibly prevalent in the international communities here at university, as discussed by Courier writer Arifah Badlishah in the article linked below. It's clear to see that universities have a problem with loneliness, and that if you are feeling alone, you're very likely not alone in that.

RELATED: Overcoming loneliness as an international student

So, this is where the importance of friendship can really be felt; my mental health before and after joining the Courier team are on polar opposite ends of the spectrum! Since joining the Courier, I have felt supported, cared for, and heard; it's great! We're silly, we can have a laugh, and we really do care about each other. If someone is going through a hard time, we look after them. When someone achieves something amazing (like being shortlisted for a SPANC award!), we celebrate. And now that so many of us are leaving, we're reminiscing and mourning the time we thought we had left together. It's special, and a very unique kind of love that I've never quite felt before. Nowhere have I felt more inspired creatively than in the Courier office surrounded by my colleagues. Contrary to what Alex Williams of The New York Times writes, my friendships with my work colleagues have been some of the most enriching in my life, and I'm devastated to leave.

We are there, and always will be there, to lift people up and support them in reaching their potential. Perhaps the lack of itching for a pay-rise or promotion, or the fact that we're still at university, has allowed my friendship with other sub-editors to flourish; who knows? But what I can definitively say is that having these friendships has made my life better.

As many of us go into self-isolation or are now faced with the reality of graduation and friends moving away earlier than we had thought, it's more important than ever to reach out to your friends. It's also really important to let yourself be sad. Loneliness is a disease; it creeps into our lives and destroys so much of our being without us even really noticing until it's consumed us. Friendships are, therefore, so unbelievably important in such uncertain and scary times. As we move onto other walks of life, the memories made with our friends will last forever. Hold onto them tight, and don't take the time you have together for granted.

Dedicated to my lovely friends at the Courier, who have without a shadow of a doubt changed my life forever. Wherever we go, we will always have each other and always be our treasured Courier family. I love you all so much.

Feature Image Credit: Beth Robson (via TakeThat Photo 2020)

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