I got thinking of mateship, after reading the related musings of a friend on her blog. Living away from networks I grew up with, residing in a special region of the country I adopted with differences and various nuances and being of a cultural background not seen as mainstream, I did and do face some challenges and opportunities. Whatever the scenario, I am here to stay and enjoy these unique perspectives.

After graduation, I worked in a close-knit environment of a family-owned bank. My colleagues and I saw the blurring of job and personal relationships after work. We congregated around individuals and random groups each of us found ourselves to be comfortable with. Extra-curricular activities were organised and encouraged around sports, food, outdoor and indoor activities.There was no need to have formally appointed mentors, employer-paid support groups and talk about what should be done in career and personal development - we just did it, relentlessly, subconsciously and with gusto. We got to know families of people who started out as working colleagues, but who gradually turned out to be friends in all senses of the word - mates whom we could call late at night to get an opinion, people with whom we could go camping and whose children came to know us as more than just from the office. The synergy we got from our outside encounters positively returned to the workplace to add to productivity, efficiency and better resolution of employee problems.

In another world now, I find myself with some people who vehemently compartmentalise whom they associate with. I can speculate on the various sociological and historical reasons why it is so, but in the end, the result can be impersonal, unmotivating and isolating. Social drivers that can so easily be utilised to embed team spirit, avoid unnecessary diversions and achieve business/career targets, with minimal roadblocks and pain, are ignored. Many I know end up not believing in the surface value of what some say or do and just give their minimum effort. At the worst, I have come across back stabbings, unfounded accusations, peculiar personal behaviour that reinforces petty selfishness and an uncanny negative focus on the now and not the future.

The happy medium that I thrive in is between these two contrasting experiences. In mateship, I believe in knowing how far to reach out and when to withdraw. The best friends are those I can drop by anytime with both good and not-so-good matters on hand, or just to sit side by side in silence. The best mates are those who accept us as what we are and yet provide quiet inspiration for us to want to better take care of ourselves. A true mate does not forget us once they move on to other stages of their lives. Reliable friends tell us as it is and keep in touch no matter what the phyiscal or psychological distance. To me, mateship is wanting to be connected, even if we do not have to.


Sassychix said…
Well said especially the last few lines!