How do you know the people in your life are right for you? If you stop and think about all of the different people you are surrounded by, it might be surprising to realize how different most of those people are from each other. That doesn’t mean that our friends can’t be each other’s friends or wouldn’t at least get along. But for whatever reason, for the most part, it doesn’t work that way. Not that it’s the most original concept ever, but I believe it’s our need for different types of people in our lives. To be well rounded, you have to diversify your assets. Some types you may not even realize you need and some types you know you could never live without. We all have these people and they help make up the story that is ours. Some of our friends could have multiple characterstics below but sometimes it’s necessary to find those who specialize in certain areas.
The one that you trust. This one is a biggie. There are several people that I trust to varying degrees but this is the person who would go to their grave with your secrets. We all have things we need to get off of our chest, things that help us heal or move on from past experiences that would otherwise hinder our growth. In order to do that, you have to have someone you can talk to and not worry about ending up being the subject of a Facebook rant. When looking for that close friend or even best friend, trust is a top priority. It takes a while to establish but can be taken away in the blink of an eye. This person might know your PIN number or they might know your elaborate plans for world domination. Either way, it’s locked in the vault of your friendship.
The one that pushes you. By nature, I am complacent. I find comfort in routine and normalcy. That mentality helps me ride this emotional roller coaster that we call day to day living. But sometimes we need a nudge in a time of uncertainty. We need someone to challenge us to improve or to convince us to take a leap of faith. Like when you are comfortable in a job that isn’t going anywhere but is meeting your needs. You could probably do better but why risk it when things are going ok? Or when you are getting by and are “just satisfied” when total fulfillment is just an unknown path away. That friend comes in handy in those times and not only pushes you to take chances, they walk with you down that dubious path.
The one that is rational and conservative. Sometimes, you can get a little carried away with living on the edge and chasing the next “high”, so to speak. Sometimes what you need is a reminder that your life is moving at a safe and sufficient pace. You may have unreasonable expectations of what you deserve or what you should have but these friends have a way of putting things in perspective and helping you manage the risks vs reward when making those life decisions.
The one that looks up to you. If you are doing some things right, there is likely at least one person looking at you and appreciating your knowledge or wisdom. Imitation is the highest form of flattery. So when things are moving in the right direction, you might find someone walking in your footsteps or leaning on you for advice or depending on you to be that person that pushes them. It’s an honor to be seen in that light but should never be taken for granted. Your influence might be stronger than you think and should be managed wisely.
The one that you look up to. Everybody has someone they look up to. It’s usually more than one person but there’s always at least one. This person can light the way for you when times are bleak. Their advice or actions usually stick with you and reveal themselves when your back is against the wall. Many times, they have no idea you have this image or appreciation of them. We should probably tell them but they probably already know as well.
The one who’s always down for anything. I have this one picked out in my mind and have already started cracking a smile. While you always need a dose of rationale, you very much need that person in your life that will help say, “screw it” and throw caution to the wind. You live by rules 24/7 and it’s no fun to break them by ourselves. This person usually holds several roles in this list but this might be the most important. What’s life if you’re not living it, right?
The worldly one. You don’t know everything, despite how experienced or smart you think you may be. Unless you’ve read the urban dictionary from cover to cover, there are going to be some things that just go right over your head. Some of these things that go over your head make you look silly or out of touch. That’s what this person is for. Nobody wants to be accused of a “thotcrime” or be a victim of “ghosting” and not know what it means. That’s where your worldly friend comes in and explains what these things mean, saving you from embarrassment.
The naive one. In relation to the one above, sometimes you need to consider yourself the worldly one even if you are not. The way to do that is to have a friend who is wholesome and set in their ways so you can help them and multiply your own street cred. The key with this is to not hang out with the naive one and the worldly one at the same time because your web of self confidence will unwind before your very eyes.
The work one. Let’s face it. Your job is not your favorite aspect of life. Unless you are a professional athlete or musician or a lotto winner, you likely have to drag yourself to some job that you may claim to love or even actually enjoy to some degree. But a job is a job and they all have their moments. You’ve got to have that work buddy that you can unload on and find empathy with. All of our friends can help sometimes but a banker isn’t going to understand the problems of a policeman and a policeman isn’t going to understand the problems of a teacher. That’s where our work friend comes into play. They can understand bad days and help celebrate victories because they understand what you’re going through. Everybody needs a work friend.
The strange one. Lastly, there is the friend that doesn’t fit neatly into any category. When I say strange, I don’t necessarily mean that in a literal sense. This could be someone that you can’t figure out how you’re friends to begin with. Not that it’s a bad thing but on paper, it just doesn’t make sense. The important thing is to not question it, just go with the flow if it’s working. I’ve found myself friends with people from all walks of life that I share very few common interests with. But for some reason beyond my comprehension, we just click and I enjoy their presence. Of course, this could also be taken in the literal sense as well. I’m pretty sure it’s common to have that oddball friend that brings a change of pace to our lives that is needed.
I could try and put a name and picture by each one of these but I’m fortunate in that many of my friends can be all of the above when they need to be. I want to stress again that many of our close, personal friends wear multiple hats for the purposes of this discussion. But, those that aren’t family usually become friends for one of these reasons originally and as we get to know them over time, we realized they bring so much more to the table. Maybe the point is that anybody that brings something to your life that’s needed or missing deserves a chance. They may turn out to be a one trick pony and that’s what we need at that given time. But they could also turn out to be a jack of all trades in the friend characteristics department and we need to stock our cupboard with those because they are rare.