“When the night has come, and the land is dark, and the moon is the only light we’ll see,no I won’t be afraid, oh, I won’t be afraid, just as long as you stand, stand by me.”

Did you sing along too? (If you don’t know the song–well, you should. It’s a good song. Scan the code to have a listen!) 

I’m sure we’re all pretty aware that no man is an island; social interaction is what makes us not only human, but healthy humans as well. Having a strong and stable support system you can turn to when things aren’t exactly going your way can reduce your stress by a long-mile. 

Officially, there are three core groups that comprise a strong support system, starting with family, then onto friends, and ending with professional colleagues. Each group offers a different level of support, which could be needed at different times of the day or even different phases of our lives. Despite offering different levels of support, they are all essential in order to stay emotionally healthy. 

These groups can also be further subdivided into four types of social support–emotional, informational, instrumental, and appraisal. 

To further explain these subcategories, the expressions of empathy, love, trust, and caring falls under emotional support. This type of support is received from your family and closest friends (or even from your special someone). 

Moving forward to instrumental support, which includes tangible aid and service, this can also be received from family members and close friends. One example of this would be a close friend of yours printing out your essay for you because you woke up late after pulling an all-nighter and currently have a deadline to beat (come on, we’ve all done it). I guess you can say this form of support would be perfect for those whose top love languages equate to gift-giving and acts of service.

Informational support, on the other hand, is when you receive advice, suggestions, and information. This type of support can be received from all the three core groups. I personally have always been a fan of this form of support, speaking as a non-affectionate person. Giving and receiving hugs or anything that feels or looks outright affectionate was something I never grew up with; however, receiving advice, being shared suggestions on how to improve my work, or being taught about random things I never knew about has always been something I’ve appreciated, and I’m sure a lot of other non-affectionate people can relate to this. 

The last type of support, appraisal, is defined as useful information for self-evaluation. Didn’t get it? (It’s okay, I didn’t at first either, but here’s the explanation for it) 

Say you’re applying for a job that is completely unrelated to your major in college; you start to doubt yourself and question if you’re cut-out for the job, considering how you were basically in a whole different world, learning completely different things when you were still an undergraduate. Then your friend, family member, or even your significant other comes up to you and lays out all the qualities and skills you have within yourself that can help you get through this difficult transition in your life–you are encouraged and reminded that you can do it

This is what appraisal looks like. 

While having a support system can very well determine who you can become as a person (because let’s face it, the people around us have a very big influence on the people we are today), it is not a sole determinant. We, as people, are capable of growth and development, and for those who weren’t fortunate enough to receive the appropriate support they needed growing up, it does not automatically make them people with bad character. It is always up to us, at the end of the day, to take action, and be the kinds of people we truly want to be. 

Don’t forget to listen to Stand By Me by Ben E. King. It isn’t only a good song, but it’s also a nice encouragement to lean on your friends when you need them the most (but for the most part, it’s just a really good song). 

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