Who are the five people you spend the most time with? Do they say about you the things you want to communicate to the world?
Yesterday was Boo’s white coat ceremony up in LA, so I went to support her and a few of her friends from Howard were there. As we were walking back to the car she said, “I love that everyone looks so nice. It’s a nice reflection of me seeing the company I keep be so supportive, successful, and happy.” I thought about her statement off and on for a long time. It is a nice reflection of her and it was definitely clear after being with her friends for just a few hours what kind of person she is just based on the company she keeps. It’s like that quote that is often attributed to Will Smith, “You can tell how far in life you’ll go by the 5 people you spend the most amount of time with.” So I started thinking about my own “5”.
Because some of my very best friends are not physically present I based my assessment of “spending time” on frequency and quality of time spent, be it physical or not. Jennie (My Person) was #1 because typically we talk all day every day in some form, and it covers the span of conversation from online shopping to life goals and choices. Next is my friend Alex and same thing, we talk the majority of the day in some fashion and at least 5 days a week if not more. Annie is physically here and spend more time with her than most people in my life. One she’s my writing partner and two she’s a left brain to my right even though both of us had a fair amount of the other. Lastly Rox and Nick. We have a group chat and usually when we hang out its a triad. I’m in other group chats but Rox and Nick are top 5 because we actually talk about the complex, difficult, and unsolvable stuff too. While I have many other relationships these five are the ones that contain the most frequency and quality time spent.
Then my next question, do [these people] say the things that you want to communicate to the world? Absolutely without a doubt. Maybe within the last three years or so I’ve been supremely intentional about with whom I invest my time. Such that, I cannot take certain attributes for too long: selfishness, inconsiderateness, complaining, entitlement, or rudeness. I’m sure there are more but those things in particular were characteristics in people I had to separate myself from. That being said, the relationships I did keep and do nurture are ones that allow me access to my full self. I can be the me who quotes Kanye or the me who quotes Carroll. I can be in deep thought about leadership or love and hip hop. I can be crying over Black men dying or Black men being assholes. No matter the situation, I can be however I feel. What does that say about these people? That they allow the space for authenticity. I will never have the groups of friends who all look alike or dress alike despite when I met them in life.I’m not attracted to a certain kind of person in that respect. I am, however, attracted to people who have a bit of “I don’t give a fuck” in their cups. People who are daring and bold; living exclamation points. They may not be wearing the same brands or trends, but they dress to express themselves. AND they appreciate self-expression in others. In fact, there is a certain amount of disdain for pleasing and in-authenticity OR indecisiveness which can sometimes look like inauthentic behavior. I will own that. These people are hard-working and successful, brilliant minds who make me want to work smarter, harder, and be better. Similarly, they expect that of me and others. There is really no room for mediocrity, but a deep sense of patience and support for those who are willing and trying in their becoming. Oh, and wine and whiskey. We all have that in common.
Sometimes people think that your family is the one that holds your context, that once you meet someone’s family you can understand their quirks, and charm better. I do not dispute that. I simply offer that maybe if you look at their 5 you can see the same thing. I think our people frame us; they provide a space of reference that we sit in that gives great meaning to who we are. I could not be in a relationship with someone who my mother did not like. I could also not be in a relationship that someone in my 5 did not like. That is how much I value their opinion and insight. I should mention, each of them also is an intuitive being. They have a strong inner voice and listen to themselves. They are each “doing their work” and have been for a long time. It is not to say I would immediately break up with someone but I would give serious pause and consideration to the relationship.
I certainly pride myself in my ability to choose good people and maintain quality relationships. If I expanded my 5 to 10 much of the same things could have been said about those five people, and the five after that. I’ve gotten to the point in my life where I do not want superfluous relationships or people around me. The friends that I have could have, at one point, all been considered “best”. While Jennie is still my first phone-call, I really am at the point now where I can share my whole self with anyone I call friend and if I cannot, then it’s likely I limit my time with them.
My favorite word is freedom. It is what I work for and what I cherish more than anything in this world, perhaps even more than love though I think in many ways the two go hand in hand. And that’s what is communicated to the world by my 5. Freedom to be yourself. Freedom to live fully and on purpose. Freedom to laugh too loudly. Freedom to cry when it hurts. Freedom to make mistakes. Freedom to fall in love. Freedom to fly away when you need to. Those are the people that frame me, and I am so thankful for their willingness to hold me up. I do hope that I add the same amount of joy to their lives that they add to mine.