You, my friend, are one in a melonMe, holding melon, being absolute trash
As we grow up, our priorities change. We morph from the glory days, when our biggest problem was saving enough pocket money for a new video game, to having to do the stupid “adulting” thing and budgeting to pay rent. But it’s not just in a financial sense. As we grow up, we undergo an ever-changing shift in priorities in all aspects of our lives, even in the social side of things.
When we’re kids, getting through school, having to do a gruelling 20 minutes of homework before playing Crash Bandicoot on Playstation 1, it’s about making lots of new friends. We meet people of various ages, cultural backgrounds, family structures. We begin to understand that everyone is different, because we ask questions, we’re fuelled by curiosity. I was an inquisitive boy, I liked different, different meant I was learning something. I’d grown up with my father in a wheelchair, so disability never intimidated me. My best friend in primary school was a boy of colour from India, so racial and cultural differences never phased me (I do want to note that in no way am I dismissing white privilege and the advantages I have had throughout my life). It fascinated me that when he would come for dinner that he could not eat beef, I found it genuinely interesting that his culture held the cow in such high esteem.
Through high school, the dynamic changes completely. It’s all about social status. How many eyes are on you? Who’s capturing the spotlight? Who’s hooking up with who? We get herded like sheep into different social groups according to popularity, something that no one seems to be able to measure and yet everyone knows their status? To top it off, I went to an academically selective school, which just meant good grades were an additional pressure to determine social status at times. High school truly is a magical place. You get the occasional floaters between groups, and as you progress through school those social groups become more fluid with our growing change in taste, hobbies, interests.. But here’s the reality kids, for those currently in high school; no one gives a crap about your high school popularity once the final bell rings.
A wise friend of mine has often said “In a world where we are more connected than ever, we are also more disconnected”, and he’s 100% right. Into my twenties it dawned on me, I couldn’t give two shits about whether or not I have 10k followers on Instagram, or 2,000 friends on Facebook. Because I began to notice that having a connection with someone online doesn’t mean you have a connection with someone in real life. I got to a point where I would not go out of my way to speak to someone I knew on social media if I saw them in real life, because more often than not people, given the option, would choose not to engage. That’s where I’d developed my own understanding of how my priorities has changed into my twenties. I didn’t care for having lots of friends, I didn’t need lots of friends. Don’t get me wrong, I have various experiences with a wide range of people from all walks of life. There are so many I would see in the street and happily stop for a chat with, but it had become evidently clear with having awkward encounters with some social media connections; quality over quantity.
In this day and age, it is hard enough for us to maintain a healthy balance of work, sleep, social time and some form of fitness routine. The last thing we need is to try and make time to keep 500+ social connections close to you, it is physically impossible to be so closely connected on a regular basis with so many people. The reality is, as we get older we’ll only keep a handful of our friends really close to us, they’re the ones we call first when we have news to share, regardless of whether it’s good or bad. They’re our real pals, the ones that really get us.
Looking at this from a mental health perspective, why is it so important to have a network of close friends? Because you deserve it. We all need someone that we can turn to, whether it be for advice, comfort or just a good laugh. By having these people to confide in, we are respecting ourselves enough to know when we need a little help. Because I’ll tell you somethin’ for nothin’ kids, bottling up how we feel, especially when those feelings are negative, won’t get you anywhere.
I have been absolutely blessed to have a close social circle that includes my best friend of over 13 years. I was her best man at her wedding (yes, take that gender stereotypes. Wait, did I just reference a previous post? Well would you look at me go), and she bravely asked me to do a speech, which involved me roasting her for 5 minutes in front of all of her friends and family. Some gifts are just too special for words, I could have stood there all day brutally breaking her down :’). Despite being over 14,000 kilometres away, we still speak almost daily, we bounce ideas off each other, we vent when we need to and we ask each other for advice. The bond I have with her and those in my circle, I wouldn’t trade it for a million dollars.
So this is what I’d like you to take out of today’s post; quality over quantity. It’s great to connect with a range of different people from different walks of life, but it’s those closest to you that will help get you over the line when times are tough, or share in your joy during life’s big wins. When you receive a promotion at your job, who is the first person you’d tell? Or when you don’t feel good about yourself, who to you turn to? Keep those people close to you, when it’s been a while check in on them, because those people are your biggest support.
Be a rainbow in someone else’s cloudMaya Angelou