One of my concerns when my daughter left for college was that I hadn’t shared with her every piece of wisdom she would need to venture out on her own in the big world. Okay, maybe not the big world, but the big college campus where she’d practice how to navigate the big world.
I decided to provide her with a re-cap, in case she wasn’t listening or perhaps she’d forgotten everything I had told her. During my last post I reminded her that failure was a guaranteed life experience; and that it was okay to fall flat on her face, repeatedly, as long as she kept getting back up and moving forward.
Now I’m reminding her about something I’ve been repeating since the day she had her first official play date. Choose your friends wisely, I said, even though at that age I was choosing her friends for her.
Choose your friends wisely became sort of a family mantra, and what usually followed was a badly hidden eye roll and someone mouthing the familiar phrase with mockery. I must say, I never did appreciate that silent backtalk.
Back then I made unsolicited friendship suggestions, like choose friends who do their homework and stay out of trouble (that was more for my benefit than hers); and choose friends who treat you kindly, share nicely and accept you for who you are, warts and all. I suggested making friends with kids who didn’t talk behind their friends’ backs (they’re nothing but trouble) and who treated their parents and teachers with respect (again, totally for my benefit, not hers).
Now that she’s in college, the same mantra applies, only now I add, Show me your friends and I will show you your future.
No clue who said this, but it’s true. Whether you’re eight, 18, 28 or 38, you are the company you keep. So for Lesson 2, let me once again offer a few unsolicited friendship suggestions.
Choose friends who:
- Love you and accept you for who you are, not for who they want you to be.
- Make you feel good about yourself.
- Are honest with you. Not in a mean and belittling way, but in a constructive and helpful way.
- Choose to be happy and positive.
- Have faith in you, even when you don’t have faith in yourself.
- Don’t require a lot of upkeep. In other words, all relationships require work, but not all relationships are work.
- Will let you wallow in sorrow and self-pity until it’s time to get off of your butt and stop wallowing in sorrow and self-pity.
- Are happy for your successes and disappointed for your failures, not the other way around.
- Will tell you your boyfriend’s a jerk, but will support you anyhow until you figure that out for yourself (while still reminding you your boyfriend is a jerk)
- Will hold your hair out of your face while you embrace that cold porcelain bowl after a rough night out.
- Have goals in life, healthy ambitions and an adventuresome spirit.
- Have faith and a moral compass.
- Love to laugh, love to cry, and will always lend you their shoulder to do both.
Finally, surround yourself with friends you admire, friends who challenge you to be a better person, and friends from whom you can learn. Oh, and one last thing – no, really, this is the last thing – be the kind of friend with whom you would be friends.