September 16, 2013

THOMAS: Keep Your Friends Close (But Not Too Close)

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By DEON THOMAS

Everybody has friends. Well, okay fine, maybe I can’t speak for everybody. In any case, for those who don’t have them, friends come in all shapes and sizes. You have your crazy friends, your silly friends, your good friends, your best friends, your fake friends, but worst of all you have your proximity friends. For freshmen, this column will teach you how to avoid wasting your time with these certain kinds of friends. For the older folks, this column will teach you which of your friends you need to burn as soon as possible. Trust me when I tell you that the beginning of the semester is the best time to shed a few friendships. Friends can be your best assets or your worst enemies. They can facilitate your growth as a person or they can stunt it. You have to realize that whomever you chose to be your friend will have a unique power over you in which he or she will control the direction of your growth (whether or not you actively allow it). George Washington once said about friendship: “Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence.”

First things first — and I cannot stress this idea enough — “nice” is not good enough!If I ask you why so and so is your best friend and you tell me he or she is nice and dependable, I will demand that you end that friendship immediately. Do not be the person that has no criteria for friendship and becomes friends with anyone who is willing to spend time with you. It is better to have on real friend than to have a million surface-level friendships. As Aristotle said: “A friend to all is a friend to none.”

We, especially as Cornellians, need friends that challenge us. We need friends that we can have a deep conversation with and leave his or her room feeling as if we just became a tiny bit wiser. Your goal in college should be to grow and develop as a person but if you spend a lot of your time with the dumb, yet funny, kid down the hall, whose acceptance into Cornell is questionable, you will find yourself becoming your mother’s worst nightmare.

I am not asking you to avoid people who do not warrant your friendship nor am I asking you to stop being cordial to people. When I speak about friends, I am speaking about those whom you spend the majority of your time with. At Cornell, we have so little free time, we shouldn’t spend it with imbeciles or really any people who aren’t pushing us to become the men and women that we would like to be.

Now I will touch on the biggest trap that will present itself in college: proximity friends. These are the friends that you make on your dorm floor, next to you in class or at every open party you attend. These are the friends whose friendship you’ve never questioned because they live right down the hall from you. It’s so easy to spend time with them so you never branch out and look for other friends. Having proximity friends is like eating a hot pocket because you didn’t think you had enough time to make a 5 course meal except, instead of doing if for just one meal, you do it for every single meal. Good luck with your health in 10 years!

Most importantly, try to remember what my father never forgot to remind me: If you look around and see 4 fools, you’re the 5th. Basically, do not forget that your friends are a reflection of who you are. If you find yourself talking behind your friend’s backs about how stupid they are or how much of a whore you think they are, just know that you’re a stupid whore as well (in your words, not mine!). Years down the road if you refuse to heed my advice and find yourself begging your Dad to be your best man or your Mom to be your Maid of Honor, kindly remind yourself that it’s not me, it’s you.

Deon Thomas is a sophomore in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. He may be reached at dthomas@cornellsun.com. It’s Not Me, It’s You appears alternate Tuesdays this semester.