“Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.” I first heard this line from Mr. Calloway, one of the vice principals at Reading High back in 2007. It has always stayed with me, but it wasn’t until recently that I was able to recognize the value of it.
I have had a lot of friends through my life. I have albums filled with people I don’t talk to anymore, yearbooks filled with empty promises of keeping in touch, and memories that will last far longer than the friendships ever did. There are people I haven’t seen in years who hold pieces me of I won’t ever get back. I will forever carry secrets within me that outlived the friendships. There are people who have left without an explanation and people whose life I left doing the same. Even though I have lost many along the way, I have never lost the lessons they have taught me.
At this point in my life, I can truly and honestly say, I have the most fulfilling friendships I’ve ever had in my life.
My inner circle makes me want to be a better friend and person. Our group chats are filled with deep, meaningful conversations. Yes, we do have the occasional “tea” to spill, or the “let me tell you” sprinkled in there. But we also talk about our high points and our low points, we confess our fears about getting older, we discuss our views on current events, and how our past has shaped us. We ask each other what our goals are, and every day keep each other accountable on those goals. We don’t tell each other what to do. We don’t tell each other what we want to hear. We keep it 100, even when the truth may hurt. We hold up a mirror to each other so that the person can see themselves more clearly.
And that’s just my inner circle! I also have my creative circle. My friends who are also working on entrepreneur or creative pursuits. Friends who will ask me about my projects and how they can help me. Friends who offer their services to make it easier. Friends who provide honest feedback on ways I can improve. Friends who tag me in new opportunities or send me resources because they thought of me. Friends who see the vision way before I do and want to do everything in their power to help me achieve it.
If I’m being honest, I can sit here and write a dissertation about why I’m blessed by those I call my friends. But this is not a brag list about my friends. This is a plea to you to make sure that your friendships are just as enriching, just as fulfilling. To me, it seems our society is so caught up on trying to be heartless and alone. A few years ago, I blogged about this phenomenon, and I sometimes feel like nothing has changed. People take so much pride in not having friends or trusting people. While I believe your most important relationship is the one you have with yourself, I also think friends add so much to your life.
I think part of the issue finding good friends is that people want to hold on to the friends they’ve had the longest, even when those friends aren’t the best. They have these friends they’ve grown apart from, but they believe that they have too much time invested in the friendship to let it go. One of my favorite quotes regarding friendships is about how someone you’ve known for three months can be a better friend to you than someone you’ve known for a few years. I can first hand attest to the truth in this. Having a friendship last years is beautiful. However, make sure it is a friendship worth keeping. It is natural to grow apart. You won’t always be on the same path and that is okay.
Going back to that quote from the beginning, I think people fail to realize how much the people you surround yourself influence your life and your decision. If you only hang out with people who aren’t motivated for themselves, you won’t be motivated by them. You may find yourself spending less time on your goals and more time just doing nothing. But if you surround yourself with people who challenge you, people who are doing it, you will find that you’re even more motivated to work on those goals.
This isn’t to say you can’t have different friends or that you must be working on yourself 100% of the time. You can still go to the club and accomplish your goals. Who doesn’t love a good night out with great friends? But if you spend every weekend out and prioritize that over yourself, are you putting in that work to make your life better? Great friends bring you that balance. Great friends help you build and win, and then celebrate those wins with you.
It is never too late to make a friend. Your friends will all take different roles in your life. You will have a best friend, a friend that’s in line with your goals, a friend that you only share some interests with, a work friend, a gym friend. They don’t all have to know your deepest darkest secrets. But they all should be adding to your life, making it better, and making you better. And you should also be that friend. Ask your friends how they TRULY are feeling. Ask your friends how their mental health is. Ask your friends what their goals are. Ask your friends how you can help with those goals. And over all, treat your friends the way you would want to be treated.