The shocking truth about friendship

Friendship is a beautiful thing

But there are times when a friendship is not what it appears to be

Making friends can be a tricky business

So I’ve compiled a short list about 10 things you need to consider when starting a new friendship…

  1. Make sure the potential friend isn’t overly status driven or loves money
  2. Avoid name droppers who often talk about famous people they know
  3. Be wary if the individual is too concerned about their own appearance
  4. Watch out if the person is a social climber looking for business contacts
  5. Go with humble people who are kind, generous and empathize with you
  6. Pay attention to the persons punctuality as a sign of respect
  7. Be wary of control freaks who want their way every time
  8. Avoid people with hidden ulterior motives and a fake smile
  9. Be aware of people using you just to be associated with the in crowd
  10. Watch out for overly competitive types who like to keep up with the Jones’ keeping an eye on what you’ve got, they’ll be wanting to defeat you

I want to share a story with you…

It’s about an unusual friendship I had as a teenager. The experience taught me a valuable lesson

At the age of 14 my parents sent me to boarding school in Melbourne

Like a naïve Australian soldier sent off to fight the Turks at Gallipoli, I thought boarding school would be a fun adventure. But as my parents car disappeared from the school driveway, there was no escaping my fear.

I was horribly alone

And desperately needed a friend in a big uncaring city

So I went back to my bedside, and started unpacking suitcases. I couldn’t hold back the tears. Soon they were streaming down my face. My once romantic vision of leaving home to explore foreign territory was soon crushed by the overwhelming feeling of abandonment

Coming from a small cozy country town, I found it tough battling the institutional elements of a cold dormitory and boarding house food. Melbourne was where I spent some of the most miserable years of my life.

The safety, security and comfort of home was over

Point 1. At boarding school I quickly learnt what life was all about

I was a captive at war

Crying myself to sleep for the first year made my academic progress slow. Keeping my emotions under control seemed like an impossible task, along with fighting the bullies that lurked around every corner

My stern straightforward boarding master said, ‘I must climb the mountain’.

So friendship became a means of survival

One of the first friends I made was another boy who struggled with bullies too. He had a funny walk, and a quirky personality, so the boys quickly nicknamed him ‘Rooster’. School kids are creative when it comes to giving each other nicknames. I was tall and skinny so they called me ‘famine’. Another boy was nicknamed ‘horse’ because of what he looked like in the shower.

But after school Rooster and I would sometimes go to the local milk bar and buy a packet of lollies and a milkshake together

We were an odd couple

Rooster would strut the footpath like a chook. His neck protruding as he walked ahead in rhythm. On the outside it seemed he was unaffected by homesickness. But I was desperately sad. Hardly able to speak a word, I was grateful for his friendship, but my head still hung low. The relationship provided mild respite from the endless pain of loneliness

Anyway, I remember one act of ultimate humiliation

This is how it happened…

A group of older boarders chased Rooster out of the dormitory naked and caught him in the middle of the oval. Finding enormous entertainment in the hopeless plight of their victim, the bullies then tarred and feathered the big Rooster.
A feather pillow from the dormitory was torn in two, and the villians wiped vasaline over Roosters naked body finally tipping the contents of the pillow all over him.

A terribly messy prank

Feathers were scattered everywhere on the school oval

Rooster was often the centre of attention when it came to practical jokes. The bullies never gave up seeking laughs. Thankfully Rooster had a strong character and was able to accept his lighthearted punishment for being odd, but thankfully he gave a little back too

I admire Rooster for his resilience and strength

He was different

A colourful character

Abounding in energy and truth

In an unfortunate kind of way, he was central to life at boarding school. Even though Rooster would end up weekly at the bottom of the scrap heap, he always bounced back and eventually learnt how to stand up for himself against terribly unfair odds

Life has a way of growing us

And making us stronger

Point 2. Through adversity our weaknesses become strengthened

I felt sorry for Rooster

And the constant difficulties he faced

Because I knew how intimidation felt, for I was different too

I’ve always been an emotional ultra-sensitive boy

Being vulnerable to bullies in boarding school may have been a weakness of mine, but later in life vulnerability has become a strength. Placing myself in vulnerable situations has meant I’ve had a broad variety of unusual experiences, and with that comes an open mindedness, compassion, and depth of emotion that somehow produces better creativity. A greater empathy for people emerges. The soul becomes refined and activated through suffering, producing an expression beyond words that people sub-conciously appreciate.

When someone says, “I don’t know why, I just like that painting” maybe they’re saying they understand the subliminal emotions expressed in the colours and shapes of the artwork

Though none of us like the feeling of being ignored, rejected, abandoned, intimidated, or lonely. I think most people know how it feels to be treated that way. Colour captures perfectly the variety of moods in the human condition. Through friendship, and art, people experience connection and empathy.

Point 3. We need each other to help us through difficult stages of life

William Shakespeare once said, “A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow”.

An original painting on the wall, like the one below, can remind us of those special friendships we’ve had along the journey

Rooster painting by Simon Brushfield

‘Cockadoodledoo’ by Simon Brushfield (2014) Charcoal & Acrylic on canvas 210 x 297mm Unframed

People that helped us along in deeper ways than we could ever imagine, maybe they were friends for a day, a week, months or years. It doesn’t matter

This is what’s important…

Their friendship allowed us to grow

A special person who walked beside you at the right time. Like Rooster did for me going down the street for a milk shake, a time when I desperately needed someone for support, he was there, to help carry the burden of my loneliness.

But over time, I’ve discovered this

Here’s the shocking truth about friendships…

Final Point. Despite how kind and caring individuals might appear, people are never enough

I need more than a human being for comfort and support in life

Unfortunately people have many faults

Nobody is perfect

And that’s fine

Friends come and go, depending upon your needs and what stage you’re at in life. I’ve had many long lasting and short-term friendships. In fact, I’m still very close with a mate from first year of primary school. Plus, I’ve made many new friends from different countries and cultures. Friends are extremely important, but they come with a cost

Our friends have problems too

And limitations

Just like you and I

People will let you down

Leave you

Even turn against you

And spread nasty rumours

But here’s the truth…

God never will

He is faithful

And loves us despite all our imperfections

When I’m lonely, and my life is difficult, in those moments I look to the greatest friendship anybody could have…

A friendship with Jesus

God says in Hebrews 13:5, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you…so we can say with confidence the Lord is my helper”

If you want an original painting to remind you of a particular special friendship in your life, send me an email with an image, then we can begin the creative process together

Very soon you’ll have a beautiful piece of original art hanging on your wall giving you strength, encouragement and inspiration for life

© Copyright Simon Brushfield – The shocking truth about friendship
About Simon Brushfield

Simon Brushfield is an artist whose work has been described as ‘poetic, enigmatic and dreamlike’ (Michael Berry, "Selected Contemporary Artists of Australia" book). His paintings have been exhibited and sold across Australia and internationally. If you enjoyed this post, sign up to Simons free email list and have posts sent directly to your inbox


  1. So good to have your words back again. Such truth and beauty in them. And I love the rooster!

  2. We grow out of friendships. That’s the problem.

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