They say show me your friends and I’ll show you who you are. Not sure about you but the individual claiming such would struggle to do so in my case. It hangs on the premise of dated ideologies – birds of a feather flock together and all that kerfuffle but in my eyes, only long-standing friendships uphold such authority over ones character.
On scrutinising my circle of friends, I observe such a wide spectrum of character traits and personalities it’ll be near impossible to brand the person I am. And it’s needed – a close group of friends should have this balance, this utility aspect to it where there's a friend to turn to in practically every circumstance. I liken it to a toolbox, each friend a tool useful in their own unique way. You wouldn’t call on a spanner to do the work of a hammer but both are present to cater for their particular need when it arises. Every character has a role to play in collectively contributing a unique piece to complete the 'circle'. Due to similar character traits, you tend to find clashes in homogeneous groups which lack the rigour and solidarity of those with a more cosmopolitan make up.
Since sojourning in the motherland, I’ve noticed the over-zealous attempts to befriend. In the nicest way possible I’ve often found myself maintaining a healthy distance probably because the minute inkling of paranoia got me thinking they’re just after a ticket to the UK. As I approach my latter years, I’ve observed this obstinate attitude of mine towards making new friends. Whether this is to do with my antisocial nature I don’t know. I believe one is at their most receptive in their adolescence as you permit and prone the type of characters you can and cannot tolerate within your circle.
As you meet new people you’re discovering yourself too which is why old school friendships are so intrinsically valuable as they’re a reflection of who you are, and if the friendship still exists, a product of whom you’ve become. Secondary school through University I’m sure you would’ve gone through a list of friends, associates and companions who may or may not have withstood the test of time. Some alliances falling foul to conflicts, others mere distance and these days even death.
As we age, we wean out the shaft until we’re left with that circle of close knit individuals we can call our true friends. Outer circle ‘know-bies’ will forever remain and they serve their purpose too but for some reason or another will always remain on the outside.
Now, in my mid-20’s I feel I’ve reached my quota. Not that I wouldn’t accept a new friend but simply because I feel I’ve acquired the balanced arsenal I need. Let me put it out there for those of you who’ve graduated and worked for a few years: how many can say you’ve met a new friend you could immediately draft into your inner circle? Not a lot – well I assume not anyway. Most inner circles comprise of friendships that have spanned years, be it right from childhood, school or Uni even. Screening their character traits, likes, dislikes and compatibility with yours is a process that usually takes time to implement, test and conclude. Yes on the odd occasion we meet that individual whose character just fuses and those years of investigative study can be packed into a few months but such is seldom.
What constitutes to a complete circle of friends is held at ones discretion. Experience says around 5 to 6 individuals but this is merely a guesstimate. It’s really depends on how scrupulous one is in their process of elimination.
In the second and final instalment, I’ll delve a little deeper into what makes for a balanced circle, the atomic analogy and the role of outsiders.