The circle of friends
“And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.
For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.”
– Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
Having lived far from my home town of Montreal for so long now, I’ve begun to view friends as a true extension of family. I was having Easter dinner with two good friends this past Sunday, when we started talking about friendships and how we’re often disappointed by those we value so greatly. This is where I explained how I truly believe that friendships can be divided and categorized in what I call the “circle of friends”.
Unless you’re a monk or a complete recluse, you probably have friends. And even then I think monks socialize with other monks. Basically everyone has friends. I personally have too many friends. Now I use the word “friends” quite loosely. My social life is very busy, and having lived in so many countries I’ve amassed a great deal of acquaintances, some closer than others, of various backgrounds and nationalities. I don’t discriminate. At all.
Some of these so called friends, people I grew up with, people I considered very close and dear to my heart, did disappoint me along the way. They say you only know your true friends when you go through difficult times. It is indeed very true. Some others I’ve distanced myself from due to their toxic nature and negative attitude towards life. You just can’t spend your precious life with individuals that suck the positive energy out of you. The conclusion I’ve come up with is that you’ll never be disappointed if you simply use “the circle of friends” theory.
Basically all of your friends fit within one of four circles, starting from the inner circle to the largest outer circle.
Circle 1: This is where your closest of closest fit. The friends you share your deepest darkest secrets with, those who have seen you in horrific moments and still held your hand and didn’t abandon you. You shouldn’t have more than a couple of friends that fit in that circle. You know you can call them if you need them. And it shouldn’t be one way either, you know you would do the same for them, even at 4am.
Circle 2: This circle lays around the first circle. These people you consider “best friends” as we called them in high school. You travel together, wouldn’t miss their wedding or birth of their child, and probably share a good deal of secrets. But there’s some stuff you withold purposely because you don’t think they could handle it or would be there for you need be. Not because they don’t care but simply because that’s the dynamic of your friendship.
Circle 3: Now we’re getting to the outer circles. These are your “social friends”. You may not talk for weeks at a time but you’ll occasionally plan outings, have an amazing time and again not speak for a couple of weeks, probably without noticing. You enjoy their company, and so do they, and you think they’re good people but that’s as far as it goes. You wouldn’t share your work struggles or your deep fears with them.
Circle 4: A LOT of friends fit in this circle. Or should I say acquaintances. They are friends of friends that happen to be at all events you attend. You make small talk, you know where they work, you may know a sibling of theirs. You have casual chat but you aren’t in direct communication at all other times. If you never heard of them again you probably wouldn’t mind so much.
What’s important is to know where each friend fits. If you properly categorize each friend in your life in the approriate circle, and make sure you would probably fit in the same circle for them as well, you’ll seldom be disappointed. Because you know what to expect from the friendship. Some friends will need to be downgraded and maybe others upgraded. Just take stock of those in your life and reevaluate your relationships.
It’s completely changed my perspective on friendships. Time makes no difference, it’s all about chemistry and fit, just as in romantic relationships. Keep an open mind and you may just meet a new circle 1 friend when you least expect it.
Quality over quantity. I truly believe in that. It doesn’t mean you have to foregoe quantity completely, it simply means you have to put special emphasis on the quality in your life.
“Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.”
― Eleanor Roosevelt