Circle of Influence

I read somewhere once that you should have friends much younger than you and much older than you, friends from different countries, friends from different socioeconomic backgrounds, etc. And, to me, it was a no-brainer. I mean, why wouldn’t you want your circle to be large, eclectic, and diverse?

I have facebook friends in Africa, England, India, and Jamaica (and probably other places too) that I haven’t met yet, but as soon as I start traveling abroad, I will go meet them for sure.Β  I have friends who are married, friends who are single, friends who are gay and straight, friends who are way more broke than I am and friends who are way less broke than me. And I have friends who are 75 and 55 and 25.

Yesterday, I spent the better part of my evening with my niece, who is 18 and another friend of mine who is 22. And I really feel like it is just good for the soul. I have two nieces that are 18. And I used to just be their “aunt Angie” but after they turned 18, and became adults I kind of became their friend. Of course, I’m still their aunt, but I think I’m also the person they would call if they got into a situation they didn’t want to call their moms about. And we talk about things that I never thought I’d talk about with them. I guess when my own kids got older, we also started talking about things that we didn’t mention much when they were younger.

Even my daughter… I was on the phone with her yesterday and her wife asked who she was talking to. Her reply was, “I have two friends. My mom and (insert other friend’s name here).” And although I didn’t make a big deal out of it, I kind of got teary eyed that my daughter considers me her friend. We talk a lot. Not quite daily, but almost. And it makes me really happy that we have the kind of relationship where we can talk about anything and everything. I mean, I’m sure there are some things she doesn’t tell me, but as a mom, I’m sure there are plenty of things I don’t want (or need) to hear about. But it made me happy that she thinks of me as not only her mom but also a friend.

And as I was hanging with my niece and my other young friend yesterday, I realized that it is truly a blessing when you can surround yourself with people younger than you, older than you, wiser than you, not as wise as you, richer than you, poorer than you, better at relationships than you, worse at relationships than you, better at business than you, worse at it, etc.

I’ve met people who are close-minded and sheltered. I’ve met people who never step out of their comfort zone to see how other people are dealing with life. And I feel bad for them.

I have a friend who I’ve known for about 5 or 6 years. He’s a millionaire. A legit millionaire. Maybe even a multimillionaire. A couple of times a year we get together for lunch and to catch up (just in case you’re wondering why I haven’t snagged him, he’s married and also not my type). But when we get together he always asks questions about how I’ve made it all these years being a single mom. And he’s always fascinated by my “things will work out” attitude, because he has all the money he could ever need and he still stresses out about everything. And I don’t have half of the money that I need at times and I never really stress about anything. I just assume it will all work out. And then it does. And I always ask him for business advice (you know because I have an entrepreneurial spirit with limited funds). But sitting with him, even for an hour lunch, is always enlightening to me because it reminds me how lucky I am. And it just solidifies that we are all in the places we are for a reason. I don’t think I would have done well as a young millionaire. Or even as a young wealthy person. My kids would have been spoiled. I would have possibly not seen the value in all the things I see today. And I probably wouldn’t have my easy going, optimistic attitude. I might even be an asshole (probably not because I’m pretty innately awesome, but who knows).

So this is my encouraging little blog to accept the friend request from the person who lives in another country, have a conversation with that homeless person, have lunch with that millionaire friend. If you don’t have a millionaire friend, make one. Widen your circle of influence. I don’t know if there is any one thing more important than that in this life.

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