“You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
A quote I’m sure many of us have heard or seen before. For me, I kind of live by this, in a sense of how I choose my friends and how often I am around certain types of people. Similarly to choosing a significant other, it’s important to kind of have this “check list” of traits you want in a friend…because why would you want to settle for anything less?
I know, it probably sounds kind of harsh, or blunt, the way I am putting all of this. But, I think it’s extremely important for individuals to be more wise and conscious of who they spend their time with, because eventually, we become very similar to these people and often times, we can’t see that for ourselves.
When I transferred to a new university during my Junior year of college (last Fall), I came in with essentially no close friends around me. Both of my two closest friends graduated and moved to different cities for their jobs, while I was stuck with a fresh start, feeling almost like a Freshman again (except more mature). The feeling of having no family or friends around you is honestly one of the most depressing feelings ever. Almost like going by in life feeling invisible. Try to visualize that. But anyways, my point is, I really started from 0. On practically everything. With that in mind, I went in to this fresh start knowing one thing–I was going to develop meaningful and powerful relationships with others in order to create the community I always wanted. And in order to obtain that, I needed to be specific with the type of people I was looking to become friends with. And in case you think that’s kind of “weird”…think about when you’re ordering food at a restaurant. You need to be specific about how you want your meat cooked, what to include/what not to include, what you’re allergic to (I’m allergic to bullshit btw), and etc. If you want something in life, you gotta be specific.
If you struggle with being specific on the friends you want to have, then at least think of the person you would like to become. Think in terms of character traits and life aspirations. If you’re someone that wants to become more focused, self-disciplined, and driven, then being close friends with someone that has a typical habit of going out and partying (even if it’s only on the weekends) is probably not going to help you become more aligned with what you want. And as we all probably know, some friends come and go. That’s kind of inevitable. But what I’ve noticed is that for the few friends that we keep in our inner circle, no matter where they are in the world, these individuals are most often aligned with your goals and aspirations in life. Which is why we will likely continue to see them along our journey.
I relate this concept to how I grew up training in both figure skating and tennis. I always wanted to be on the higher level sessions, so I could be skating alongside with the top skaters in the nation, pushing myself to become a better athlete as well. When you see others around you doing better, being a better version of themselves, it gives you this sense of desire to want to do the same. I hardly ever trained or practiced around those that were significant levels below me, as I knew this would interrupt my momentum and be less motivating than working with those above me. Likewise, I seek to be around those who can also push me to be a better person and have positive traits and skills I can learn from.
When it comes to choosing friends, there are specific traits I look for: intelligent, ambitious, self-aware, thoughtful, grounded. Of course there are likely a few more, but these are the usual five I can pick out easily first.
What traits do you look for in friends?