But luckily, throughout my life I've learned a LOT from friends.
Not my friends.
Friends the TV show.
(I promise I have a fairly stable grasp on reality.)
Over the ten year run, we saw the gang through better and worse, and watched them tackle a lot of timeless themes about life, love and friendship.
Here are some of the important lessons I learned around the table at Central Perk.
1. Don't Judge - No matter how weird Phoebe acted, or how simple Joey could be, the friends all completely accepted each other. Of course they would rib each other and take opportunities to mock (Chandler), but at the end of the day they welcomed each other's differences and embraced the little oddities and idiosyncrasies (Phoebe). Embrace your friends for who they are. See the best in them. Even when they want to play bagpipes at your wedding.
2. Be Honest - Honesty is a pillar of every strong relationship, and even when the truth hurt, they were always fully honest with each other. (Except the time Monica and Chandler lied about an entire relationship for months on end.) The tough conversations sometimes need to be had, like when someone's voice has been dubbed in their own music video, or when you don't share your romantic feelings for one of your best friends.
3. Support Each Other - Like the song says, I'll Be There For You, Cuz' You're There For Me Too. The friends are the most supportive-brinking-on-codependent group around. Support your loved ones in all of their endeavors, from modeling male lipstick to getting massages at a corporate company.
4. Find an Apartment with Rent Control - There's no WAY the girls could've afforded that apartment as a chef and a waitress, even if it did belong to Monica's grandmother. Rent Control. Boom.
5. Follow your passions - One thing I love about the characters is that even when times were at their roughest, everyone in the gang pursued their dreams. For Joey it was acting, Rachel found a career in fashion, Monica never gave up her dreams of being a chef, Phoebe pursued basically anything that struck her fancy, Ross made a career out of his love of dinosaurs, and in the later seasons Chandler left the job he hated to pursue one he cared about in advertising. No matter how hard it gets (and it will get hard), be true to your dreams and passions.
6. Release your inner Child - Build that fort. Get a pink daisy-basket bike. Play Pac-Man until your hand turns into a claw. Get corn-rows in Barbados. Let your Freak Flag FLY!
7. Always Be Loyal - The Friends are always loyal to each other. Leaving girlfriends who didn't get along with the group, abandoning romantic notions so as to not lose a friendship, being there for each other in the worst, most embarrassing or sad or difficult situations. Always stay loyal to your friends.
8. Accept All Different Lifestyles and Personal Choices - From the beginning, the show always embraced alternative lifestyles - Carol & Susan's same-sex marriage, Phoebe's eccentric surrogacy for her brother, Chandler's drag queen father, Rachel and Ross having a baby out of wedlock, they even supported Ross' incredibly questionable decision to have a pet monkey...
Post Script: I may have an unhealthy obsession with this show...