Growing up, my parents used to say “You are who your friends are”. Now that I’ve matured, I see why they were so adamant about me hanging out with certain people. Habits and behaviors can easily rub off on others.
I can honestly say it wasn't until my freshman year of college when this light bulb went off in my head. When I was in charge of choosing my surroundings and the people I wanted in my circle. Many of you may be saying, "girl I did that in high school!" Not me. I went to a smaller high school that was very diverse. So many of my friends were my friends because they were the only ones I saw regularly.
Any who, during my freshman year of college, I began hanging out with a group of girls who I thought were nice and funny, but we were very different in a number of ways. Since elementary school, I've always been a straight-A student. Education was extremely important to me. And seeing that I was an out-of-state student, and tuition was higher for me, I had no room to play. At times I would notice them skipping class simply because they didn't feel like going, and refusing to do homework assignments because they felt it was too hard. On top of that, they engaged in activities that I wasn't necessarily comfortable with doing, such as smoking all the time, being promiscuous, and hanging out with guys who were much older than us, and or local guys who weren't even in school but preyed on the underclassmen. Now I’m not here to bash anyone who’s in a relationship with an older partner or the occasional marijuana smoker, but these were things that were out of the norm for me and I did not see myself engaging in these things.
That next semester I met a girl from PG County, MD, who is now a lifelong friend, someone who had the same values and similar goals as me and we hit it off. We mixed and mingled with a few other girls we met around campus and before I knew it, my MAIN clique was formed. Each one of us came from different places, had vibrant and strong personalities and different career goals, but the one thing we all had in common was that we were no-nonsense and driven individuals. We played hard, but worked harder!
In grad school, this mindset of surround yourself with winners elevated. Here I met professionals from different industries and who were all at various levels of their careers. I saw opportunity for me to learn from people. I saw things in people, and their accomplishments that I desired for myself. I networked, and through classroom/project interaction, genuine friendships formed.
Even now I choose wisely. My closest friends are dentists, therapists, social workers, personal trainers, teachers, entrepreneurs and motivational speakers. All of our relationships are mutually beneficial. We support one another, bounce ideas off of each other, inspire one another and have fun. One of them actually pushed me to create this blog! She lit the fire under my butt and stayed on me! She has a very successful podcast and extensive experience in PR. She has helped write my bio, and taught me a number of lessons and tips to launching and maintaining a brand. (S/O to T-Kea Blackman, CEO of Fireflies Unite!).
See that’s what I’m talking about! If your friends can't help you elevate to the next level, what are they there for?
In short, the key message of this post is to remind you to surround yourself with like-minded people. Surround yourself with winners. Surround yourself with people you can learn from and are just as or even more driven than you are. That’s a major key!