My high school class took our senior trip to New York City in 2012. All of us were ecstatic. The itinerary had us going to Fenway Park, ascend to the top floor of Rockefeller Center, strolling through Central Park, floating on the Hudson River to gaze at Lady Liberty herself, covet all the expensive items we could never afford in Time Square, plus so, so much more. There was plenty to be excited for.
Yet for whatever reason, out of everything we had going on during this trip, there was a select group of guys who were thrilled out of their minds to purchase “Foakleys.” That’s “Fake Oakleys” in translation. I kid you not. New York City is flooded with merchants trying to sell tourists know-offs of brand-name items for hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars that match the original’s price point. Apparently, these guys in my class did their research, and were abnormally stoked to barter with these sleazy merchants to purchase a fake pair of one of the most elite brands of sunglasses in the world for the price it actually deserved. They wanted to settle for fake.
Whether people realize it or not, people fall for fake stuff all the time. The issue with anything that’s “fake” is it will reveal its true nature eventually. The sunglasses will fall apart. The microwaveable frozen rendition of TGI Friday’s potato skins will not taste like the restaurant’s. The plastic-and-paper plant will not give off the fragrance of a true rose. As much as it feels real in the beginning, its true nature will be found out. And disappoint is sure to follow—unless mediocrity is what’s expected.
Too often the same is true with friendship. People want the “Fake Oakleys” of friendship: to have just enough facebook interactions, just enough hearts on Instagram posts, just enough text messages to make them feel like the community they have is real. But true community is so much more than that… but it is also much more pricey than that. It’s always easier to purchase a $25 pair of Fake Oakleys than fork out $500 on real Oakleys. Who can justify spending that much on a pair of stinking sunglasses? Yet real friendship requires risk, love, vulnerability, time, uncomfortableness, tension, investment. Whose willing to spend that much on friendship?
Those who want the real deal.
In her book, Come Matter Here, Hannah Brencher so eloquently writes:
“Real friendship cannot be fake. It will kill our souls if we walk around acting like we are cheering for people when we really aren’t. At the heart of what we do for one another, there must be love. The other stuff will break us apart eventually. Love is the only thing that holds, and it must call us deeper than what we thought we were capable of giving.”
May we only settle for the real deal when it comes to our friendships.