“People associate you with your friends, so be careful who you hang out with.” By now, hopefully you have discovered that whoever said that to you turned out to be extremely, if not annoyingly, correct. People do associate you with your friends, because your friends define you, don’t they? After all, you choose them. And you choose them based on what attracts you, along with the occasional wildcard (you know, the “how are you even friends with that person” person).
Plenty of us like to joke about roles within a certain friend group (the “mom”, the “socialite”, etc.), but I have found it much more interesting to look at the big picture. As someone that makes friends easily, I have acquired several different circles of friends. The differences between these groups are quite obvious, and often comical.
If you are a person with many friend circles, then you know that it’s not that you change from group to group, you just have parts that tend to be more prominent depending on which one you’re with.
From the way I see it, we all have five friend groups into which everyone we consider a good acquaintance/friend can be sorted.
1. The Childhood Friends Group
Pretty self-explanatory, these are the people that you grew up with. If you’re like me, you moved a bit, and don’t have friends that have been with you since the literal beginning. In any case, these are your longest friendships. These were “your people.” I use “were” because it often occurs that once you graduate, you all go your separate ways. You then go to college and meet an entirely new breed of friends. The beauty of this group is that it is the group that is only able to get together over major holidays, yet it picks back up like separation never happened.
2. The Freshman Friends Group
Just like your first college experiences, this group is all new and highly intriguing. These are a whole new version of “your people.” This group becomes tightly knit alarmingly fast because you are all each other have in this new and unknown place. This group is inseparable in its beginning. Unfortunately, this group often dissipates after your first year of college. Members of this group find their niche on campus, make new friends, and branch out. Although this group rarely exists as a whole the rest of your college career, you consider times with them precious memories. These were your first college friends, and they hold a special place in your heart.
3. The Party Friends Group
Whether it be an occasional night at the bar, or a time you refer to as “The Dark Ages,” you will probably, if you haven’t already, go through a party stage, for which you have a set group of friends (who were carefully calculated might I add). No matter how much you love any of your other friends, you got to admit, these guys are pretty rad. Not only are they hilariously entertaining, but they also encourage, and fully support, your wilder side. You really trust this group (because after all, you drink with them, and who is going to party hardy with people they don’t at least trust a little).
This group isn’t usually very large. This group definitely knows things about you that force you to remain friends with them (because those secrets getting out is just not cool). Although there’s that closeness, this is a group that generally disappears as fast as your party phase. A reunion every once in a while is highly anticipated, but this is the group that you acknowledge as a good time, and you are surprisingly ok when it doesn’t result in your “friend soul mates.”
4. The Acquaintances Friend Group
This is the largest group. These are the people that you don’t consider friends, but there’s at least one thing that makes them just a step above an acquaintance. This is definitely your most diverse group. This group consists of classmates, people you regularly run into at parties or bars, people in the same clubs or organizations as you, etc.
You like these people enough to say hey when you pass by them, or share laughs with them, but you wouldn’t necessarily want to hang out with them just one-on-one. Although you avoid that one-on-one contact, this group exists because you realize that you in some way value the encounters you have with these people, even if it is just a wave across campus on the way to class.
5. Your People
This is it. This is your group- the dream team. Although your “Acquaintances Friend Group” tends to be the most diverse, this group often doesn’t fall far behind. These people are the ones that have the most influence over who you are. This is the group that took you all those years of “testing out friends” to find. This group is your livelihood and your inner circle.
For some people, this group is made out of a mix of their other groups- a couple childhood friends, a friend from freshman year, maybe even a former party friend. Once this group is established, its members become beyond classification into any other group. Being a member of this group does not necessarily mean that the person knows you better than your childhood friend, or is more outgoing than your party friend.
In fact, being a member of this group means whatever you want it to mean. Maybe these people were all there for you in a troubling time. Maybe these are the people you know the most about. This group doesn’t tend to be close-knit as a whole, there’s a reason they are branded your people. Your people don’t have to be each other’s people. Regardless, these people hold the biggest place in your heart.
No matter who you are hanging out with, never forget to let your friends know how much you care about them. Your friends do a lot for you, whether you realize it or not. Cherish them.