Building and keeping a trusted circle of friends
Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you need is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down
If the death of the Prince of Wakanda has taught humanity anything, is that a trusted circle of friends is just as important as having air in your lungs.
In 2016, Chadwick Boseman was diagnosed with colon cancer. He kept his condition private but to a few friends and family while he continued to work and receive treatment. Sadly, he died in August 2020 from complications of the illness. Other than his family and a small select group of people, the world knew nothing of his condition. The trusted circle maintained confidentiality, respected his wishes, observed boundaries while supporting him emotionally. T D Jakes said, "surround yourself with those who won't compete but will revel in your success and see your ascent as a reflection of their own possibilities. Any one of those people could have used the story to enrich themselves but they didn't: even when the question of his weight loss was speculated in the media, they kept quiet. Those are real friends.
Despite undergoing numerous surgeries and chemotherapy, he continued to work and produce films, inspiring a whole generation of people and proved to them that you can be anything you want. But more importantly, he showed the importance of having a trusted circle of friends. And that circle did not let him down.
How many people can honestly say they have a circle of friends like Chadwick's? I'm betting not many.
Building and keeping a trusted circle of trusted friends is no walk in the park. With today’s social media mania, having a huge list of friends is trendy and it’s a personal choice but cultivating a lasting mutually beneficial relationship with a large group of people is an impossible task. There’s nothing wrong with having a huge following or a tribe on social media because most people follow someone because they are meeting one of their needs e.g. cooking tips, mental health advice, how to do tips etc. But on a primal level, no one needs a large group of people to be 'friends'.
However, the hardest part about having and keeping a trusted circle is not realising who your true friends really are. I heard a story of a woman, let’s call her Rachel, who had a friend, let’s call her Monica, for years. Rachel told Monica everything – from the mundane to the life-altering. Monica kept all the information Rachel told her not because she cared but because she didn’t care – she couldn’t care less if Rachel was battling cancer or winning the lottery. What Rachel didn’t know was that although she thought of Monica as a great friend, Monica thought of Rachel as an acquaintance, or like just someone she knows. This realisation sent Rachel into a deluge of mental anguish and she never trusted another soul.
Having said that I don’t think Monica did anything wrong other than not tell Rachel which compartment she occupied in her heart. Rachel simply trusted and believed their friendship was more than it really was. It is important to know who your real friends are, who your acquaintances are, who are just people you know and who are not your friends. Beware though of devious people who come disguised as friends and infiltrate your circle. Just because someone is in your circle doesn’t necessarily mean they are in your corner.
In my experience, you can differentiate real friends from acquaintances by the extent to which you can be yourself with them. That friend who can tell you that your hair cut, or dress choice doesn’t flatter you and you change immediately because you trust them implicitly and you know they are ‘judging’ you out of love, not malice. That friend you sit in comfortable silence with and can tell when you are in anguish and offer a shoulder to cry on or hug even in times of social distancing. Your happiness is important to them. That friend who can share feelings, aspirations and even secrets with and not worry about it, because you know they respect you above gaining popularity using your dirty laundry.
The most important question anyone should ask themselves is, ‘what kind of friends do I want?’ Your answer would and should most likely fall in line with your values.
A good friend will pass the test of time – this doesn’t mean you are testing them or anything, it just means that the things that happen to and in your life would not change or shake a solid good friendship – if anything it should make it stronger. Things like marriage, children, career change, personal growth, bereavement, relocation, illness, financial lose/gain, physical changes etc. According to mental health experts having a good circle of friends can reduce the likelihood of feeling sad, loneliness and low self-esteem.
Along the corridors of life, we meet three types of friends – those who come into our lives for a reason or lesson, those who come for a season and those who come for a lifetime. To know which friend is which you must let them in, know why you let them in and what they may add or change in your life. Experience teaches us that sometimes you have to let people in, even though they might hurt you, you have to let them in for a reason or lesson.
What I know for sure is that we all need a loyal best friend, a fearless adventurer, a brutally honest confidant, a wise mentor and a polar opposite – sometimes you can have a friend with all these qualities. It helps too to have a friend from a completely different culture – trust me you learn so much about yourself and how to interact, integrate and accept people.
As you venture into deciding your true friends from fakes or enemies beware of people rooted in fear, limited possibilities and scarcity mentality. A true friend, though realistic, should raise your level of awareness without corrupting your mind with self-doubt and disbelief. A true friend encourages you to challenge yourself based on your goals, wants and desires and doesn’t impose theirs on you. Remember you can find a great friend in anyone including your family, partner, colleagues and even neighbours.
Make good choices
Be kind and humble
Everyone is battling something you know nothing about.