Those People in Your Circle—Are They Even in Your Circle?
How well do you know the person who sleeps next to you every night? Or that girlfriend you occasionally have coffee with…or that friend with whom you wish to partner in business? What if the love of your life is actually a mad scientist who practices pseudoscience and conducts illegal human trials? What if they believe in voodoo and have voodoo dolls among other paraphernalia? Okay, someone stop me now; my mind can really veer off to the sinister. Faulty wiring and what not. I guess what am trying to ask is: how well do you know the people around you, your family, your friends, your support system if you may? Do you even have a support system? Let’s start here.
Life is tough; you cannot go at it alone. You need people you can count on as much as they count on you. You need to be affirmed, to be told that you are doing just fine. You need to belong; to have a place and a people you call home. You need to be validated; a pat on the back goes a long way. You need to be lifted when you are down. You also need to affirm others, to validate and lift them; to pat them on their backs and have them call you their place, their person, their home! It is not always about you, you know! When you have all this, you’ve got yourself a support system.
I feel that it becomes particularly difficult to create such a system as we grow older, mostly because we do not know each other. Yes, you have your boys with whom you have drinks every Friday night. You have your tribe, the fun tribe, which is down for yacht rides and all sorts of adventure. But will they be there and stick by you when life gets real? Unfortunately, your guess is as good as mine—your so called “friends” may not be any less strangers to you than the people you have never met.
You know that common saying ‘you should know people’? We really should. We are becoming distant, everyone lost in their own world, pursuing what they deem important. Yes, we might keep in touch on Facebook and WhatsApp, but does that suffice? How much opening up can we do online? We are busy pursuing careers which, albeit important, make us forget what matters.
My mama mboga recently told me about her neighbour who does not even know what classes his two kids are in. Don’t mind me, people just hit me with random information. See, these are worrying lows. For social beings, we are becoming particularly antisocial. That meshwork of unity and being there for one another is eroding at an alarming rate. We have reached a point where we need state-mandated policies such as Nyumba Kumi to know our neighbours. We are fencing ourselves within high walls and justifying this with warped ideas of independence and introversion.
While we might have “friends” in the multitudes, how well do we know them? Do you know the deep dark secrets they harbour? Do you know the demons they battle? Do they know the demons that challenge you? Have you volunteered to slay them? Have they?
So, how about taking time to know the people around you for the remaining part of this year? To avail yourself and be present? To listen without judgement? Ask your bro to skip that Friday night drink and have a sober conversation over a meal; masculinity be damned! Get to know how they are doing at work, how their family is faring. Joke about when he intends to put a ring on that girl he is seeing. Remind him it’s been seven years and you can hardly wait to be the best man and make a toast at his wedding. On a lighter note though, he can marry whenever he wants.
Create an environment where people can unburden themselves to you. You never know what some of those close friends are dealing with. How about making a point of worrying less about making new friends and striving to enrich the friendships you have?