It seems the older I get the more I realize the value of building my inner circle tightly. Friends are tough to find but they are essential to living a healthy and satisfied life. When you find a great friend keep them close. Investing too much effort and time on people who don’t necessarily deserve it, can leave you feeling resentful, rejected, or embarrassed. It’s not selfish, just not everyone deserves to know all the details of your life. You want to protect your energy.
Most importantly you have to be aware of the different levels of friendships you have with people. There are typically 3 levels of friends; Inner Circle, Middle Circle, and Outer Circle. Knowing the different levels helps you to set boundaries and protect yourself from any negativity you don’t want in your life. Here are the differences:
The Best Friends you would die for. These are the people who you can trust to always be there for you when you need them. I can honestly say I only have 3 people I would turn to for anything. I have shared my embarrassing life stories with them, created amazing memories, and just lived life together. You want to fill your inner circle with people of similar goals and values. These people will have a strong influence on you, and will ultimately impact how you feel about yourself. I’ve been through a lot of bullshit with my Inner Circle but through chaos the ones that stay will identify these people for you.
Your Middle Circle
The middle circle contains your good friends, people that you simple enjoy to be around. You can always express yourself around them, but be cautious sharing your innermost thoughts and feelings with them. Your level of emotional investment is going to be different with this group. These friends still play a role in your life, but may move in and out of this circle depending on your common interests and activities, and time spent together. They’re there for a good time, but you’re not calling on them to vent about your new relationship problems.
Your Outer Circle
Your outer circle are people who you have a casual relationship with. There’s not necessarily a deep connection, but you see them often enough to say Hi in passing. You wouldn’t want to share your innermost feelings, troubles, or secrets with them however, they’re there for a laugh and simple conversation. These people who will likely move in and out of your life completely. Kind of like the kids from High School that you still follow and like the latest picture them finally marrying their high school sweetheart.
When you establish your personal brand identifying these people naturally becomes easier because you have similar interests and activities. Take a mental note when you meet someone about where they will fall into your life. I’m not by any means saying cut everyone off that doesn’t check your boxes. It’s important to be kind to others, because you don’t know what they’re going through. If you’ve seen me out and about, you’d know I always have a smile on my face and I’m chatting with everyone around me. This doesn’t mean they are all in my circle. I have layers of friends and acquaintances.
Being in Hospitality for so long has engrained in me to greet everyone with a smile. When I meet someone I greet them with a smile, but I keep everyone at arms length away emotionally. Not everyone has your best interest at heart so you have to be cautious. It’s okay to be guarded, but don’t take that as being emotionally unavailable. There is a huge difference being emotionally unavailable will prevent you from creating genuine relationships with someone.
Here are some tips that have helped me learn the different levels among friends:
1.) Lose the Ego
Have you ever noticed someone go on and on about how awesome they are in a conversation, and they don’t listen to what you have to say? Ew, right? Don’t be that person, or wait around for someone to come and talk to you. Live like a student, you never know what you might learn from someone new. Go up to new someone and say Hi. Body language is an interesting thing, if you notice people at a party standing in a welcoming manner and looking around, odds are they are looking for interesting people to talk to. What do you have to lose, if they aren’t polite you know who to avoid at the next gathering. There is something quite attractive about someone who can come up and start a conversation. Just have confidence and learn to read people, it’s easier than you think.
2.) Be Vague
Like I said before, not everyone deserves to know your life story. Be cautious of people who intrude and want to know every detail, that might be used against you one day. Trust is earned it’s okay to be a little vague sometimes. Mystique is well… a bit sexy, am I right? I like to play this subtle game where I tell someone a very slightly embarrassing white lie and see if gets back to me. At some point it will come back around, and I quickly dismiss it and know who I can trust instantly.
3.) Set Boundaries
People that don’t respect your boundaries need to be cut off. That’s a harsh line I will stand by. Once they start it just doesn’t stop. If someone is doing this to you it’s an ultimate sign of disrespect. I had this friend once that knew I went to a kickboxing class everyday at 6pm. That was my time to work on my health and mental clarity. She would rage text me, discredit me, and try to force me to give it up to go out drinking with her. Piece of advice never do that for anyone and if they get mad about it just let them go.
4.) Pay Attention to How Someone Makes you Feel
Have you ever talked to someone and just felt drained after? Pay attention to that. I love to hang around people that make me laugh, and I can be myself around. Your friends aren’t going to judge you, they will support you in everything you do. You won’t ever feel alone with these people. They want to see you succeed, and stick around when things get tough. I went to a party once, and this girl I would call “outer circle” came up to me and made a comment about me being annoying on social media. I instantly got a little upset but then I realized I don’t need her validation. If someone doesn’t like what you’re doing they can unfollow you, in this case I made the decision to unfollow her in real life.
5.) The Give and Take
Friends give and take in many ways. If you feel that a friend keeps taking from you, odds are you will end up resenting them. I love to give my time, attention, and really listen to my friends. I’m there for them emotionally and support them through the good and bad. We all make bad decisions from time to time, just be there. When I don’t get that back I feel very unsatisfied in that relationship. Your inner circle will have a way of making you feel complete. You can give to your friends in a lot of ways, remember the love language quiz? If you haven’t taken that yet I recommend that you do. You can learn a lot about how you give and take not just in relationships but friendships as well.
It took me a long time to realize who my true friends are, it’s easier said then done. The intention here is to make you aware of people and intentions off the bat. You won’t recognize this right away if you’re in a position where you just moved somewhere new and you’re looking for genuine friendships. It takes time and a lot of trial and error to be honest. You’re going to go through a lot of drama to get there, but find the ones you can have a common ground with. Your inner circle should be filled with like minded people with unique perspective and input in your life. Think of them like your personal board of directors, each committee member has a unique expertise in a specific field. Your life will only get better with them around and they will push you to go the extra mile.