"Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation for it is better to be alone than in bad company. Be courteous to all but intimate with few, and let the few be well tried before you give them your confidence. True friendship is a plant of slow growth and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity, before it is entitled to the appellation."
Friendships are important. You can reach your goals alone, but you will go even further if you have the right friends. Your friends can either motivate you and push you to be better, or they can hold you back and eventually push you backwards. Does this mean that we cut off the friends that hold us back? Not necessarily. Check out my previous article on living at peace with everyone. Networking is important, especially in the world of business, where - as they say - it’s all about who you know. But you must not be best friends with everyone. For me, there are very few girls that I consider to be on my ‘bridesmaid’ list - the girls that I trust most. These are my best friends. Instead of cutting off everyone this year, how about coming up with your own bridesmaid list? Here are a few tips for choosing - and keeping - best friends. Enjoy some beautiful art from African designer Peniel Enchill!
Do you feel free and respected?
Have you ever felt the pressure of doing something that you didn’t want to do, because you didn’t want to disappoint your friend? Or a better question is do you have friends who get mad at you and go silent on you when you don’t do what they want? The ones that get mad if they bought you something for your birthday and you didn’t buy them anything. That is what I call toxic and childish. You should be free in your friendship: free to make decisions based on your priorities and values, free to speak your mind, and free to be you. Your friends don’t own you. Its shameful when you can’t be yourself around your “best friends.” That should automatically disqualify them from being your best friends. I’ve met girls who were so quick to call me fake and cut me off for not agreeing with them or for not reading their mind. I never associate myself with them closely for long. My friends know that there are certain things I don’t do, and places not to invite me to. They respect that, and vise- versa. We don’t always agree on everything, and that’s okay. Your friends should be able to respect you and who you are. Your friends should be able to respect your “no’s”. You don’t have to do everything they’re doing, and they don’t have to do everything you are doing. A friendship without respect and freedom is not a friendship. Its jail if you ask me.
Do they fight for you?
You will not always be at a perfect place. Life happens sometimes. I’m sure we’ve all experienced life in one way or another. How do your friends react when you tell them where you’re struggling in life? Do they fight for you and with you or do they just sit back with their arms crossed? Or do they go around talking about your situation to other people? Real friends will never sit back and watch you drown. They will fight for you. I can look back at a few situations where I almost messed myself up, but because of a few friends I was able to step back and reevaluate myself. If you’re going through something, and 3 weeks pass by without anyone checking on you, get new best friends.
Are they independent?
It's great to be surrounded with girls who are independent minded. Have you ever met a group of girls who all looked, talked, dressed and basically did everything the same? The ones that gang up on their friend’s ex? Like they all share one brain? Yea, you will never find me in that bunch. How do you expect them to fight for you if all of you share the same brain? All my friends are different from me, but we all share one goal. To excel in whatever we’re doing. You need friends who will speak up if something is not right, friends who will challenge you, friends who think for themselves and are creative in their own way. You need friends who think outside the box. That kind of combination makes a great team. It helps you to grow mentally and professionally. Your bridesmaid list should be people that you can trust with your personal information and your life goals. So beware of people who are not creative enough to come up with their own ideas. I once had my girl copy my idea (something I had been working on for at least 2 years) word for word, and then she used it to market her merchandise. So yes, it pays to have friends who can think for themselves.
It's all about Integrity
Regardless of what kind of relationship it is, integrity is the most important quality anyone can ever possess. There is no need to be close friends with someone who has no integrity. It’s as simple as that. Integrity gives a friendship value. So how do you detect integrity? First of all, pray over your friends - you’ll be surprised what God can show you. Secondly, be wary of people that are too eager to be close to you. Don’t be so quick to be vulnerable with people you’ve just met. Some people view vulnerability as opportunity.Proving integrity takes time - so don’t rush friendship.
It's not a Competition
There’s room for everyone to win. When you make it to the top, wouldn’t you want your friends to be up there with you? I don’t know about you, but I would love for my friends to win and slay with me. A win for one queen is a win for all. Celebrate one queen’s win today, then tomorrow celebrate a different queen. A true friend will not try to win by putting her friends down. A true friend will celebrate your victory with you. Lose the best friends who want you to stay on in the same level and get mad at you when you start doing better. Lose the ones that never have anything nice to say about your win. I once shared my goal with a long-term friend, and her response was and I’m quoting her “that is f***g stupid.” Then immediately she got excited when I told her she could be a part of the project. It took me a while to realize that she was more interested in what was going wrong with me. How do you tell that a ‘friend’ is simply competing with you? Are they always interested in your problems? Do they always want to know what’s going on with you but they never get too personal about themselves? Do they prefer to come out on top in a conflict instead of just resolving it? It is time to reevaluate those friendships.
Remember: everyone is important in your life, but how important are they? Can they make your bridesmaid list? Quality is better than quantity. I hope that this year we will all make better decisions about who we let into our lives and who becomes a ‘best friend.’ What do you value in your friendships? Feel free to share those with me.