I grew up hearing the cliché about how we are a consolidation of the top five people we hang out with. This phrase was used in primary school to dissuade us from making friendships with kids who were always in trouble in school. And I frowned at the simplistic idea.
Except as an adult, I am realising this is really true. And more than ever, I realise the impact that my friendships have on me. Lessons I am learning are;
- Your friends affect your career choices. In campus, I saw that most people went to classes that were “popular” for elective courses. And our world view was affected by our friends, who you if you think about it, did not really have a broader world view compared to you. Later on in life, your friends’ opinions will influence your career choices, because of the networks they expose you to. Their opinions of certain work places will colour your choices of where to apply to, sometimes which offer to take and which one to reject. You need to be aware of these influences enough so you can know when to tune out their voices and make an independent choice.
- Relationship choices-Your friends are the first testing sheet for the new catch in your life. This may come in the form of an offhand comment about how rude your boyfriend was the last time he came to pick you up. And it gets you thinking about whether you really want to stay with a person who is curt and short with you. Or your friend is the one who will talk you into giving that person one more chance when you feel like you are out of it. Again with this, identify where your friends end and where you start. You are the one who has to live with the consequences of your choice.
- Energy– I used to have this friend who bitched about everything. And I mean everything. The length of lectures, the weather, the amount of dust. It was quite exhausting to defend the weather to her, sigh. Another of my girlfriends would wonder aloud why she was not getting asked out by guys, then complain about why men chose to ask me out instead, yet she was pretty (her words). And in campus, this was a big deal. The friend even went so far as to tell me to tell her what my secret “seduction” trick was. So I could show her to “catch” men. Then she went on after that to criticise everything I did. Either I could not clean the toilet well enough (we were housemates), I could not cook well, or I just was lazy. And it tore me down, every moment felt like I was trying to prove myself to be less competent than her so she could feel better about herself. Except it was never enough. Be aware of the energy brought into your life by your inner circle.
- Do you and your friends talk about saving, spending or investing money? Most of us are locked in cycles where we hang out with our friends in expensive places which we cannot afford but are afraid to say so in case we lose the relationships, or start being left out of planned activities. One thing I have seen to work is I always will say when I am broke. I shall say, I am not able to afford to pay 2K right now, how about we go someplace cheaper? Which with reasonable friends, will not be an issue. Do not be the person who goes, has lunch at Java due to peer pressure then has to walk home since you do not have fare.
- Your friends affect your risk appetite. Compare how hard it is to go zip lining alone or to go with friends who shall cheer you on? Similarly most people who go for poetry events, out dancing and clubbing, getting new businesses are because of influences we get from those around us.