I had lunch yesterday with a dear friend that I hadn’t seen in a few years… she’s now living in the southern US while I’m still here in the Northeast. She’s one of those types of friends that is definitely inner circle… that despite the physical distance between us, I know that she’d be there just a phone call away, day or night. Despite not having seen her in years, talking with her was like it always has been.
The people we surround ourselves with and interact with help shape the person we are or the person we hope to become. Interactions can be entirely positive… or totally negative. Most of the populace can pinpoint a time of peer pressure… where the people surrounding them were trying to mold them into someone else. Or a scary moment in adolescence where we stood on a limb deciding whether we should jump… knowing that our reputation amongst our peers would depend on our decision. Our peers and friends determine our social groups… our cliques. High school social groups can be divided based on hobbies, athletic ability, or academic achievement. Movies from Grease (Sandy trying to fit in) to Sixteen Candles (Sam trying to fit in) to She’s All That (Laney trying to fit in) show how hard it can be to determine your place in society and how the friends you choose influence your behavior. In Grease, Sandy made the decision to totally change her personality to fit her friends… In Sixteen Candles and She’s All That, the popular boys were the ones to change their personalities.
It’s natural to assume that our peer struggles end once we reach adulthood… however, it is the nature of these interactions that change. In high school our reputations and dating life (or lack thereof in my case) are completely determined based on our peer groups. Adolescents see their whole lives wrapped up and connected to friends and relationships. In adulthood, our peer interactions morph into different zones. We have peer interactions that determine our living situation and roommates. Peer interactions that influence whether we succeed or fail in employment. Peer interactions to influence who we date and spend time with. By the time we reach adulthood, our world has expanded exponentially and very rarely does each piece involve the same people and relationships. In my life I have inner circle friends, co-workers, fiber arts friends, and family friends. People that I see every day, people that I see once in a while, people that I haven’t seen since high school, but we interact on Facebook. Each of these people creates a different type of relationship and influence on me.
One of the most amusing relational games to play is the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game. The idea is that everyone in the world is somehow separated from Kevin Bacon by six degrees or less. In other words, I might know someone… who knows someone… who knows Kevin Bacon. I believe there is even a website now that tries to determine your separation level. Now I admit I’m not sure why Kevin Bacon was the chosen one, but the idea is clear that our relationships and peer groups connect us in many different ways. How many times have we had interactions with people that seemed rather forgettable, but upon reflection ended up being a huge influence on us?
The friend I had lunch with and I were only able to spend an hour together talking and catching up, but because she’s an inner circle friend, the lack of time doesn’t matter. She has an influence on my life everyday, regardless of where she or I live. And I would never want it any other way.