Building Genuine Friendship and Avoiding Cynics
By Anthony Mikatarian

“Friendship isn’t about who you’ve known the longest. It’s about who walked into your life, said “I’m here for you” and proved it” (Unknown).

The emotional well-being of law enforcement members and their families is vitally important to help us perform our duties. In this profession, our well-being is not only challenged by the everyday life challenges, but also our unique job duties and work experiences. Building genuine friendships and avoiding cynics will go a long way to keep you healthy, grounded, and focused.

Surrounding ourselves with emotionally positive and reliable friends, spouses and family will in return, improve our psychological and physical well-being. Obviously, choosing the opposite types of relationships will only be detrimental to your well-being. Think about that for a moment. Recall the cynical co-worker or acquaintance, and ask yourself how much you really enjoy being around him or her: Not for longer than a few minutes before you start heading for the door. Too long around these types of people can negatively impact your well-being. Steer clear of these types. You will be glad you did.

We as humans are pre-programmed to be social and desire companionship. The relationship groups we choose for ourselves, such as your significant other, our families, selected friendships, and those specific associates you interact with such as work associates are the important antidotes that help define our healthy social support. Our social support network helps mold such things as the way we view the world, our experiences and establishing our identity and purposes in life. Our social networks also help us navigate the good and the bad life conditions that are set forth upon us, as well as learn from them.

We all know this profession is known at times to breed such things as haters, cynicism, pessimism, burning out, unfairness and fatigue. Currently, you probably find yourself experiencing some of these negative forces or have in the past, at some point during your career. Succumbing to this negativity can and will drain you both mentally and physically. Staying positive and surrounding yourself with genuine, encouraging and supportive reliable people is hard work and a two-way-street.

In your lifetime, you will find that many of your friends will eventually disappoint you, let you down, or become phony. This commonly occurs when there is selfishness in obtaining and taking a benefit away from you, jealously, laziness, dodging, or when you are going through tough times and failures. These are the times genuine friendships mean the most and are a great meter in finding who your genuine friends are. It is easy being a friend during good, passive times, but a true and genuine friend will be by your side throughout all the good times, tough times, losses, accomplishments, failures and such.

Your friendships should not only be with other law enforcement officers. Having friendships outside of law enforcement are also vital to help keep you grounded and provide some healthy time away from the law enforcement mentality. Finding like-minded friendships is natural and important, but finding friendships that also challenge you and get you out of your comfort zone are just as important. It will help you grasp another perspective of life, push your boundaries, and help you become a better professional and person.

We face enough challenges in our profession. Use your genuine friendships as a remedy to help alleviate these challenges. The social networks we create not only define us, they carve the direction and quality of life we lead.

God bless you and our country. Be safe.

Anthony Mikatarian has been a police officer for over 15 years. He is currently assigned to patrol in a northern NJ municipality. He earned a Bachelor’s degree from Johnson & Wales University, Providence, R.I., and another degree in mortuary science from the American Academy McAllister Institute in New York City.