I remember when as a younger girl, my father would ask me capitals of African countries, or other current affairs, and I wouldn’t know them. In disbelief, he would ask me “So what do you and your friends talk about then?” The question amused me. Why a couple of 12 year olds would be talking about something other than Hannah Montana or the latest was absurd to me at the time. “We are not old men” I would say to myself. Only recently did I realize the essence of the question. My father being an older wiser man, was able to reconcile the fact the people around you, and the things you discuss, have an impact on you (minimal or maximally). And that’s what I’d like to discuss today. Who are your friends?
One of the beautiful things about life, is the need for fellowship, communication and friendship. Without these three, the world would not be as we know it. The need for friendships especially, can absolutely not be underestimated in our society today. The people you surround yourself with, will most likely influence your lifestyle, your thoughts and of course your vision. Have you ever seen a flock of birds? They move in the same direction. At all times. It seems to me, that one of the birds suggests a direction for movement, and all the other birds follow. This would mean that even if a single bird, felt differently about moving in that direction, it would have no choice, but be forced to be with its friends throughout their sojourn. The interesting thing about it is that it’s ALWAYS birds of the same type that move together. Its never a mix of species of birds. They all move beautifully to the same direction, creating such beauty that makes you wonder in awe. Coincidentally, that’s how it is with humans too. People move in the same directions as their friends. People with differing interests would most likely not be involved with each other. Can you imagine being with somebody who absolutely disagrees with you on everything? Obviously the disharmony would create a chasm between you both, that wouldn’t allow friendship to grow in any way. It’s that simple: Birds of the same feather flock together. That’s why it is very important to be careful about the kind of friends you keep as young women right now.
Friendships are unavoidable. In fact, they shouldn’t be avoided. Friends being people you spend your time with, discussing important issues with, are very important, and go a long way in shaping who we are as individuals. This is why it is so important for one to be careful about friendships. Let me put this into context. Think about Microsoft, the software company which was founded by childhood friends Bill Gates, and Paul Allen. The two friends were able to come up with the company, out a mutual enthusiasm for computers and a love for entrepreneurship. Or the founders of Google, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, who had attended Stanford together and came up with an idea that eventually, became the multi-million dollar company that it is today. The funny thing about this is they didn’t begin as friends. A shared interest in computers turned a not-so great relationship, into an eventual friendship. Isn’t life amusing? These relationships clearly provided a fertile ground for ideas to grow, and be nurtured. But why are good friendships so important? I’ll give you a few reasons.
- Personal growth:
Friends are really teachers. That’s why there’s the caution of being wise about picking them. A really good friend of mine taught me how to knit, and it’s something I really appreciate till tomorrow. Also, friends help explain come complex things to you. I still learn new cooking tips from my friends, and my family can certainly testify to my growth as a budding chef. During discussions I have now with present friends, enlighten about issues I would otherwise not have been aware of. For this reason, I always look forward to meeting new people who have similar interests as me. Remember the examples I gave above? I will go on to hit the gong about this one again. Good friends often allow a space for one to grow.
Sometimes we go through seemingly tough times in our lives, and need someone to rely on. Apart from praying to God about these issues and having our family to support us, friends often offer a shoulder to cry on or a listening ear. Either ways, knowing that you have people who genuinely love you, and help you pray through your situation provides a form of comfort that cannot be explained.
- Expression of Self
Friends help us express ourselves better. Being amongst friends creates a space where we feel free enough to be our true selves. For example, one is more encouraged to act silly amongst her friends, and expose a level of joy which in turn allows her feel loved. Think about the last time you were with your friends and how you felt overjoyed, and free to express yourself.
The list goes on and on, but these are the major reasons why friends are important. Gathering from this list, it becomes obvious that a friendship should have one very important factor-love! A true friend loves you and wants the best for you, not she, but for you. Why is it important to emphasize this? Because of the phenomenon called “toxic relationships”. This term might be new to some of us, so I’m going to take my time to explain it. A friendship featuring selfishness, control, and superiority over the other person, best describes a toxic relationship. One typical example, of such a relationship is one where your friend constantly makes you feel insecure and not enough. I once had that type of relationship with a friend. I was in junior secondary school at the time. She would make me feel that my uniform was always dirty, or I wasn’t looking neat enough to talk to her senior friends. Sometimes, she would just stop talking to me for the fun of it, perhaps to torture me. And it did get to me. Sometimes, we would be having discussions and she would interrupt me just to emphasize that I had done something that didn’t suit her. I basically became her slave. I would do things for her, just so that she would be happy with me, and talk to me. The unfortunate thing about it was that I didn’t realize what she was doing, although other classmates of mine tried to tell me about it. It took time for me to understand what was going on, and eventually stopped being friends with her.
It’s been years since that incident, but I’m still very wary of not including myself in friendships that drain my energy, and don’t allow me blossom. Friendships should be about respect for each other, compassion, support and love for one another. Your friend should want to see you grow.
Do me a favour would you? Decide from this moment that you would choose to surround yourself with friends who would help you grow, and love you as much as you love yourself. But most importantly, remember to be that kind of friend to others around you.
Cover Photo Credit: Chibuike Alagboso, Twitter: @alagboso
Dolapo is a lawyer, and would soon embark on her mandatory youth service, next year. Dolapo would be 23 early next year, and is trying to navigate her way through life as she drops little bits of wisdom she’s gained over the years, to young girls. Dolapo recently started writing herself, and hopes her writings would help inspire people in their journey in life.
You can follow Dolapo and her work on Twitter and Instagram @tdols24