I think I’m in the majority as it relates to having friends that aren’t exactly like us in all ways. There are so many different levels of friendship, and one of the things we struggle with is being presented as if everything our company does, reflects us.
For instance, if you’re a man and you are friends with another man who is homosexual, the common assumption is that you are also homosexual. But what if the person is cool and they respect the boundaries of your relationship? For women, this generally happens if a female friend is “loose” with men. The assumption is that if you hang out with them, you must be equally as loose.
I feel this is a difficult situation, as reputation is very important and also bad association can ruin a set of valuable habits and morals. However, my belief is that one person doesn’t always represent the whole. In the end, my answer to this dilemma is that every person is accountable for themselves.
I was at a studio one night visiting a guy I was dating at the time.
I took two of my homegirls with me. We had all gotten together and hung out. I’d known both these girls forever, but I was much closer to one than the other. Inside the studio was a stripper pole. One of the girls with me (the one I didn’t hang out with much) got very excited. I’d seen this stripper pole dozens of times, and personally, I thought it was tacky. At the base of the pole were some papers and other studio paraphernalia that let you know, the pole was not being used too frequently. My beau noticed the excitement in her eyes and asked her not to get on it because there was too much stuff at the base and he didn’t want her to knock it over. It was too late though. Her excitement clouded her good judgement and she hopped up on the pole and tried to impress everyone by swinging around it attempting to be sexy. It was an embarrassing moment, and I felt responsible as if he would automatically assume, this is something we did all the time, together, as friends.
When I was younger, I had a few different friends who were known around town for being loose. People would make jokes about them and I would defend them. But occasionally, someone would try me, and come at me as if I were them, and I had to clarify that we were two different people.
Then there are those other times, where I did something (Oh no! God forbid) that was completely out of my character, or at least the character I thought I had, and people would assume I was that way all the time with everyone. In actuality, these were not my defining moments as a whole person, but they are part of my history and cannot be denied or swept under the rug as if they never happened.
The moral of the story is that people are not always constant. We are not always the same way around everyone. We are not always a mirror of our company. We are somewhat chameleons depending on where we are in life, who we are surrounded by and what our desires are. Every situation has the potential to bring out new sides of our character that we’re not always anticipating.
How many times have you done something outside of who you think you are? And how many times have your friends done something you don’t think you would ever do? Truthfully, it’s smart to be conscious of our association with people who don’t have like minds as it relates to our overall moral system and lifestyle we’re trying to lead, but having a balanced friendship with someone who has a dominant reputation as something that doesn’t represent us shouldn’t alter how we feel about them if we truly love them. I have several friends & acquaintances that have lifestyles that do not mirror mine. There is something about them that I love that goes beyond the part of their character that’s looked down upon.
As hard as it is, I find it best to determine a person’s character by studying them under different circumstances. Are they kind to you? Do they bring positive energy into your life? Can you rely on them? Do they have your back? Looking at their friends, family or how they behave under one set of circumstances is not always indicative of the wholeness of their identity or what they can offer or subtract from your life.
So, to a large degree, birds of a feather do flock together, but they can still be unique and different and should be judged accordingly!