There’s a commercial for candy that’s been playing recently. In the scenario, an eligible bachelor takes Ms. Brown out to lunch. He makes a comment that implies he loves her for what’s on the inside. She says, Yes, pure milk chocolate. He admits, That’s what I love about you. Ms. Brown rolls her eyes and retorts that she thought he appreciated her brain. He comes back with: Well, is it milk chocolate also? #fail #sonotthepoint
This commercial played for one of the breaks in the most recent episode of Emily Owens, M.D. Emily struggles with a similar identity crisis. She has a crush on Will and she thinks their friendship is based on her intelligence. Her new friend tells her that it isn’t. He’s her friend because she’s a friend, not because she’s smart.
That comment really stuck out to me. I think it’s easy to sell ourselves short. We’d be foolish if we didn’t acknowledge that our attributes like beauty and intelligent aren’t attractive to other people. But at the heart of the matter, there’s always more to it. People can see in us qualities that we don’t even know about ourselves.
So, sure, Will noticed Emily because she had good study skills and he wanted to study with her. But where a friendship goes after the first encounter actually depends on the people underneath.
Over time, friendships grow and develop whether we like it or not. Things happen. The setting changes. We lose things that we thought were defining. A good friendship doesn’t stay stuck. It moves and bends too. Sometimes, it means that people grow apart; their interests diverge and circumstances keep them apart. But other times, it means people become closer.
Will could confide in Emily because they had spent time together, because he knew that she cared about him, and because he knew that she was a compassionate, reserved person. He might not have known any of that if he had wanted to study with her in the first place. But a good study buddy doesn’t automatically make one a good listener.
All in all, I’m discovering that life sometimes takes advantage of our fleeting qualities. If we lose them, it doesn’t mean that we (necessarily) lose everything else also.