High-school and university days were some of the best and most memorable days of my life. But they have also been some of the most difficult and forgetful. For those that know me well, you know that I am someone that likes to keep everyone around me happy, even if it may be at the cost of my own happiness. Actually, let me correct myself. I used to be someone that kept everyone around me happy, even if it may be at the cost of my own happiness. What I have learned over time is that it is impossible to keep everyone around you happy because not everyone may reciprocate the same behavior. Only a very few do and those that do are hard to find and impossible to let go.
Without any exaggeration, I had ten times more friends back in university than I do now. But what is interesting to note is that I am ten times happier and more content in life at this moment that I have been in the past ten years combined. As the years flew by and time became scarce and more valuable, my definition of “friendship” evolved into something more realistic. What I valued out of a friendship became more important. The quality of friendships became more important. I slowly began to realize that life is not a popularity contest.
What I have learned about the relationship between the “quantity vs. quality” of friends is that happiness, both in terms of giving and receiving, is sometimes found in smaller things and quantities. They say, “as we grow up, we realize it is less important to have lots of friends and more important to have real ones.” I could not agree more.
Lesson # 2 - Friends can make you or most definitely break you
“Tell me who your friends are, and I will tell you who you are.” As crazy as it may seem, your friends have a direct/indirect impact on your personality, values and attitude. The people I surrounded myself with in the “good old” boarding school days were different from me. I did what I did, said what I said, thought the way I thought, acted the way I acted because that is exactly how my friends were. Many of us wanted different things in our lives, but I only realized this in hindsight. I did not know better. But the responsibility and fault of not knowing better was undoubtedly all mine.
That is why things in my life changed over the next several years not by choice, but rather by force. I knew that if I continued to surround myself with people that wanted different things out of life, I would not be the person I am today. I had to force change in my life and had to reposition my place amongst future groups of friends. This was one of the most difficult things to do but by far the most rewarding.
I made sure that the people I surrounded myself with shared the same goals, dreamt the same dreams, and valued the same values. I have learned so much about myself and about life over the past couple of years because of both my family and friends. What is interesting about the last sentence is that the friends that I now spend my time with have become family to me. Each one of my friends has inspired me in a way that is indescribable. Whether it is giving back to the community, inspiring others through spoken or written words, or just being a good human being, my friends have played a significant part in each of these fields. My friends are my role models and I am blessed to have them in my life (you know exactly who you are).
Lesson # 3 – Letting go.
Imagine losing your beloved $800 cellphone. Now imagine losing a friend. Unlike losing something tangible, a friendship does not come with a “price tag.” One of the most difficult things I have had to do in my life was to let go of certain friends either by choice or by force. On the same token, one of the most difficult things I have gone through in life was to be let go by certain friends. In the quest of becoming better people and living happier lives, tough decisions need to be made. I have learned that I will always be directly accountable for my actions but can also directly account for the actions of others. If you feel like there are individuals in your life that are bringing you down and/or are slowing you from achieving your goals and deterring you from your values and beliefs, do not be afraid to let go. If you are in the company of those that propel you towards achieving the latter, do not let go.
Thank you Faizan for suggesting that I blog about this topic! I would also like to thank Haaris, Shahrukh, Basmah, Sabeen, Hammad, Shafi, Maryam, Melody, and Ali for suggesting some amazing topics. I promise to blog about them in the future!