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Who is your Existential Friend?

·2 mins
Photo by Greg Rosenke on Unsplash

Hmmm … 

That was an intriguing question one of my mentors asked me. I think I know ‘friends’ —  but, what is this “Existential” thing about, I wondered.

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I came to realize, the word “Existential” comes from the branch of philosophy called Existentialism, which, emphasizes individual’s freedom, choice, and subjective experience as central to human existence, and arguing that individuals create their own meaning and essence through their actions and decisions.

In a way, it can be summarized as

It is only through living your life that you become who you are and who you can be

Existentialism is and has significantly much more to offer than my simplistic summarization here, but let’s run with this for now.

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Also, while we sort of know who a ‘friend’ colloquially is — it is interesting to realize that it’s root word comes from the old English verb, frēon, which is “to love, like, set free”.

Interestingly equivalent words for ‘friend’ in some other languages have similar roots — for example, ‘Sadeeq’ in Arabic comes from the root that means ‘someone who tells you the truth’.

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With the above context in mind, an Existential Friend is one

  • Who has an understanding of your strengths and areas of growth, what you are passionate about and what drives you, and more importantly — what do you stand for?
  • Who shares new ideas, conceptualizations and opens up new thinking paradigms that shape or at times even shake up your world and propel you into new dimensions (not just directions)
  • Who trusts in you and encourages you to become the best you are really capable of
  • Who won’t just stand by watching you squander away your potential, but instead becomes the mirror showing you your harsh reality to get you back on to your true path

So, in a way, existential friends are

the ones who help shape our Existence.

I believe, in a world of incessant hysterical industriousness keeping us busy & away from manifesting our true destiny (à la Melchizedek of The Alchemist), and relationships that seem to be growing more & more shallow by the day, entertain-mental relief seems to be the constant norm, and market instabilities forcing everyone to constantly reinvent themselves, the need for an ‘existential friend’ has never been more urgent.

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So, Who is your “Existential Friend”?

And, equally important, Who are you an “Existential Friend” to?