Relationship Design 1: The Friendship Acquisition and Your Inner Circle

House - "You're wearing that shirt for someone." Wilson - "The health department. They frown on topless oncology."

As much as we don't want to admit it sometimes, we depend on our friends for comfort, companionship, and keeping us sane. Think back to your most cherished memories: were you alone? Or were you surrounded by friends? My guess is the latter. The past year I've dealt with periods of loneliness and isolation. Graduation school has some to do with that. Entrepreneurship/freelance work probably has more to do with it. Although I meet with my team virtually 5 days a week, it's not a replacement for actual human interaction. I've also adopted the mindset that it gets harder to acquire close friends as you age. Charlie Harper and Dr. Gregory House reaffirm this theory. However, my Junto accountability partner Igor called me out on this belief last week and I think he's got a great point. Even though I believe as we get older, we are most selective of who we choose to spend time with, I think it's an excuse to say it's harder. I want to provide an example from a year ago to illustrate this point.

Scene: Olympic training center welcome center. I am the only one who doesn't know anyone because everyone is a second year grad student. Awkward standing/sitting. Mild chit chat. I did know one person from undergrad though and was eagerly awaiting her arrival so I had at least one person I knew. I also knew she was dating a guy who on the "social media surface" level seemed cool. He was also big (only strength and conditioning guy) and had a pretty sweet arm sleeve. I know it's silly but thinking back, I'm like "I dig this guys ora". So Aaron (the guy) and Meghan arrive and we sit on the couch and start chatting about who we are. Is it only me or is this like the most awkward part of getting to know someone? It's not your "real" voice, we hold back certain information, and only embellish the surface level information. It's what we do though! We use our deep voices to make us sound more manly. However, I knew we had some things in common and the first interaction went well. I had some anxiety going into this week's long trip. I have moved a few times (more on that in another post) and it gets harder and harder to say goodbye and cultivate real relationships with people, knowing they will leave. But that's life right?

Turning point: I love this part. So we are on a bus to go to... I think the mountain climb that almost killed me and Catey and I said more swear words than... I honestly can't come up with a good analogy because there were so many. I came in 4th though! Anyway, back to the bus. I'm asking Sarah in front of me about herself and she says she's from Australia. "Okay, friend test time" I thought. I look at Aaron and say, "Austria, wellll..... good day mate! Throw another shrimp on the barbie!" (Quit reading and google that and watch Dumb and Dumber right now if you don't know that quote) You know that genuine, can barely breathe, deep belly laugh? Aaron busts out laughing and that's when I knew we were gonna be close.

From there, we bonded over our appreciation for The Office, meme's, stupid people, and our struggles and successes. Through breakups, steak nights, and our one round of golf (which I won obviously ;) ) a friendship grew into a bond. It took time. It took building trust. It took a deep appreciation for quoting Family Guy and Michael Scottisms to perfection. His graduation I met his family and pretty much spilled my guts about my philosophy and my dreams (3 consecutive tequila shots contributed to that; thanks Brian!) He definitely got me through my first year of grad school. 

I tell this story for two reasons: expressing appreciation for an individual and to show it's possible to cultivate a quality relationship when you put the time and effort into it no matter how many times you move or tell yourself it becomes harder. Again, I think we become more selective because we've had more time to reflect on what we want in our friends. If that leads to quality or quantity, that's the way it's supposed to be.

"Circle got smaller everybody can't go." Nipsey Hussle

 Whether you enjoy hip hop or not, there's wisdom in this quote. As you grow and become the person you are meant to be, you separate yourself from the masses. Those who don't grow, reflect, and progress are the masses. You do not want to be apart of this group. This large group has no self-awareness. Lack of self-awareness is average and leads to average results. There's nothing wrong with average. I'm guessing if you are reading this, you don't aspire to average. Average is easier for sure. Life's not worth doing easy. So, as we grow and mature, we see past the bullshit of the masses and start to gravitate towards like minded people. These like minded people will do the same to you. The reality as I mentioned before is that this is a minority group. While you can go out drinking with your co-workers and have fun, there's a difference between that and having a deep connected conversation about life, principles, and purpose. Don't take for granted someone in your life that can do this with you. For these type of conversations to occur, one must build trust and a connection. This takes time. Try doing this with 20-30 people. It's impractical and impossible. Would you want to trust that many people with all of that? I'm not saying don't have a lot of "friends." There's a difference between a friend and an inner circle member.

An inner circle member understands you from a deep philosophical level. They know your values, why you do things, don't pressure you to go against your values and principles, and has your best interest at heart. They genuinely want you to succeed. You trust their advice because you know they know you and your past. Your relationship isn't perfect and no relationship is. But in your inner circle, ego doesn't exist. Care and empathy exists. You can trust your inner circle because you know their opinion is based on logic and genuine love for you.  With that inner circle, you will be able to fulfill your potential. 

"The older I get, the more I realize the value of privacy, of cultivating your circle and only letting certain people in. You can be open, honest, and real while still understanding not everyone deserves a seat at the table of your life." Unknown