How To Become Adele’s Friend

We all owe Adele’s friends a great debt – without them, her newest album 30 might have never graced our 2021. Adele says this album documents “the most turbulent period” of her life.

 

For many people, the last two years are likely to have been one of their most turbulent periods of life. Our lives have shifted for better or for worse – but nearly everyone has seen significant change and disruption to their expectations (who expects a global pandemic?).

 

Adele’s announcement of her album gives insight into what gets her through times of turbulence: her friends.

 

She says:

It was my ride or die throughout the most turbulent period of my life. When I was writing it, it was my friend who came over with a bottle of wine and a takeaway to cheer me up. My wise friend who always gives the best advice. Not to forget the one who's wild and says, "It's your Saturn return babes f--k it, you only live once". The friend who'd stay up all night and just hold my hand while I'd sob relentlessly not knowing why. The get up and go friend who would pick me up and take me somewhere I said I didn't want to go but just wanted to get me out the house for some vitamin D. That friend who snuck in and left a magazine with a face mask and some bath salts to make me feel loved while inadvertently reminding me not only what month it actually was but that I should probably exercise some self-care!"

And then that friend who no matter what, checked in on me even though I'd stopped checking in with them because I'd become so consumed by my own grief. I've painstakingly rebuilt my house and my heart since then and this album narrates it."

Adele, on the release of her 2021 album "30"​

Behind an enormous star is a deep and resilient support network. Everyone wants these kinds of friends – the ones that sit with you, talk with you, listen to you, and love you.

 

In our work developing resilience in communities, we find that people sometimes feel reluctant to become more resilient – assuming that “resilience skills” just means that they will be asked to manage more stress in isolation. However, true resilience is never about making individuals more stress-resistant, but about changing culture and context at the most fundamental level. It’s about leaning on others, and being the kind of person others can lean on.

Connected resilience arises from our connection with others when we inspire resilience in each other: using empathy, interest, and encouragement to engage with the world and get the most out of life.

Jurie Rossouw

This means resilience is best attained through building connected communities. Resilience is not a one-man job but is instead developed through creating resilience at all levels of culture. This means having proactive conversations, supporting others, noticing when people may be going through something, and lifting into wellness together.

 

Adele has managed to build something in her friend group that speaks to the critical need of the 21st century: trustworthy community.

 

So how do you become like Adele’s friends?

Invest in trustworthiness

50% of people will experience a period of mental illness in their life, but only two thirds will feel confident to talk about it with someone they trust. According to reports, people who perceive themselves as having more social support are more likely to talk about their mental health, while people who feel that their support networks are weak are less likely. As well as this, studies suggest that improving knowledge about mental health can help reduce stigma and improve mental wellbeing.

 

Invest in your own trustworthiness by:

 

  1. Always showing up for people – whether by dropping off bath salts like Adele’s friend, or making good on your promise to come to their event, or even just sending a text to say you’re thinking of them. There are so many ways to show up for the people you care about.
  2. Curbing your gossip – sharing juicy gossip about others, even if your friend finds it fun in the moment, reduces your trustworthiness in their eyes.
  3. Getting comfy with vulnerability – go ahead and open up (in a way that is careful of context) about how you really feel and your values and goals. Sharing openly with a friend paves the way for them to trust you with their own vulnerabilities.

Learn about proactive and preventative care

Many approaches to caring for others can be reactive – i.e., looking out for issues and stepping in to help when you notice concerning symptoms. However, proactive friendship looks to help protect the people in their circles from developing these symptoms in the first place. Proactive and preventative care involves:

 

  1. Training in a strength-based system that can be used in everyday situations
  2. Creating a shared language for people to discuss their experiences more easily with each other
  3. Building solid and inclusive support networks

A true friend never gets in your way unless you happen to be going down.

Arnold H. Glasgow​

All this helps to build a society where we can start to reverse the trend of mental illness by caring for each other proactively. Follow these steps, and maybe you too can contribute to the next era-shaking album. Or maybe you’ll simply make life better for the people around you, and really, that’s just as good.

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