Choose your friends, and make them think they chose you
Building a strong support system of friends who will push you to do your best is one of the most important things you can do while in college. This is likely the only time in your life when you will get to regularly interact with such a large and diversified group of people. Take advantage of that opportunity!
Making friends is both an art and a science. The art of making friends I will leave to you, as it depends upon your unique personality; but the “science” is pretty simple to explain. It is possible to take a strategic approach when building a friendship and a network of supporters.
It probably sounds a little crazy, and you might think that I’m a bit of a stalker after you read this. But first, let me explain the benefits of a strategically planned friendship. If you are interested in self-improvement, you can always learn from other people. Identifying other people who are better than you in an area you want to work on is the first step in making a change in yourself.
The benefits of surrounding yourself with people who are smarter than you are numerous, but most importantly, by just being around these people, you will be reminded of the change you want to make in yourself!
When I was in 5th grade, my family moved to Florida from North Carolina, and I had to make a whole new set of friends. I realized that I had the chance to reinvent myself. After attending an awards ceremony at my school and seeing the other students being recognized for academic excellence and creativity, I decided that I wanted to be on stage with them one day. So, I made friends with those people – and eight years later, when we graduated together, my friends and I were recognized on stage together with some of the most prestigious awards our school and community had to offer. Today, we remain friends and are making an impact in our respective fields.
How did I get myself into their elite circle as the “new kid”? Once I identified the kind of people I wanted to surround myself with, I began to think about why I wanted to be their friend. For each person, I came up with things that I liked about them or admired them for. Without becoming a fanboy, it is important to build a genuine interest in and admiration for your prospective friends.
I found out what they were interested in and asked to join them at their lunch table one day. As our friendship grew, they began to notice things I was especially good at that they admired in me. A mutual sense of pride for one another’s accomplishments grew along with a healthy sense of competition to push each other forward.
When you start college, you have to learn how to make friends all over again, and it is not always as easy as sitting at their lunch table. Then, when you graduate and enter the “real world” for your first job, you may find yourself friendless again. You can choose your friends, and you can make them think that they chose you!
The friendships that I have built are not any less genuine because I strategically chose who I wanted to be around. I have built a team of worldwide supporters with varied interests and talents.
I don’t mean to suck the wonderment and romanticism out of the art of forming friendships, but in many ways, if you think of it as forming a strategic alliance, the friends you make will help you achieve your goals and are more likely to push you forward than hold you back!