During your time through secondary school and even beyond, the friends you make will be integral to your life. They’ll usually be around you everyday.
So, for this reason, it’s important to make your friends as wisely as possible. They say your character is comprised of the 5 people you spend the most time with, and you want your character to be as good as possible. You also want the best support system possible around you as possible.
We’ve spoken before briefly of the changes you’ll experience throughout secondary school, the teenage years and once puberty hits. As such, you want to have the best experience possible. While we’re all individuals going through our own changes, having a good support network will make the process so many times easier. Remember, while you can’t choose your family, you can choose your friends.
Your personal well being should always be a top priority. Don’t ever feel pressured to keep a certain friend or group of friends. Always be aware of how you’re feeling and act accordingly. Friends are around you to accept you while also building you up, supporting you, and being honest. If they’re doing the opposite of these things, you need to reevaluate the friendship. Can you talk to them and explain how they’re making you feel? If they seem to sincerely be regretful of their behaviours, perhaps they can have another chance. If not, perhaps it’s better to end the friendship - or drift as much as possible. If you can’t talk to the person, that in itself is a dangerous sign. There’s no need to pick a fight or battle (usually), but do your best to drift and meet new people.
Keep an open mind. Secondary school typically comprises of different lessons with different students. So, make an effort to talk to different people in different classes. You don’t know where it’ll lead you and who you’ll make friends with! You can rarely judge what a person’s character will be like just by looking at them. But, new conversations can do wonders. I understand it’s difficult - especially in secondary school - to meet new people. Especially since you don’t get a lot of free time and you don’t choose who to spend your lessons with. Nonetheless, if you keep an open mind and (at least pretend to) ooze confidence, you will meet new people and make a variety of friends.
It might seem like you’re a bit of a loner looking for a new group to join. Or a bit strange because it’s very common to associate with a group of people and be stuck as a friendship group for many, if not all, of the five years. So, we’re not suggesting you go out of your way to completely change your friendship group around regularly. But, being aware of other people in your year group is nice. It’ll be nice for you to be able to walk down the corridor and have light chats with different people. Or to be able to play a sport with people you actually know rather than rocking up without knowing anyone. (Although, that’s also a chance to speak to new people).
The reason I’m so strongly encouraging of speaking to a wide variety of people is because, firstly, it’ll open up your mind and perspective to so many different beliefs, customs and practices. Thus allowing you to learn, grow and develop as a person. Secondly, you’re creating opportunities for yourself to create friendships you might not have before. These people could potentially end up being a key part of your support network. Thirdly, you just don’t know when it will come in useful in the future. Network building can get pretty crucial later in life too.
Your main friend or group of friends isn’t going to be necessarily really big; filled with everyone at school you’ve ever had a conversation with. But I know that some of my closest and dearest friends wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t braved going up to the new girls which the joined school over the course of both secondary school and sixth form (all in the name of helping them settle in). I knew it was a chance to meet new people and potentially make new friends. And even if a friendship hadn’t formed, I knew I had done a good deed and helped make their settling in to school process easier.
Your level of friendship will be tested as trials and obstacles come your way. When you find the friends that truly stick to you and support you, you’ll know they’re worth more than those that left you to fend alone. So give those guys some more value. And, take the time out to spend more time with them. Perhaps instead of scrolling social media for an hour, just spend some time with your buddies. Develop those friendships and they’ll serve you well.
Finally, remember that your friends are a huge influence on your lifestyle. If you don’t agree with their ethics or life choices, ditch them. You haven’t got time to waste or worry about what other people will think. You are your biggest priority so do what is best for you. Ultimately, if you’re ever unsure about the right friendships to form or to break, speak it out with someone sensible and who knows you well. That might be a close friend, a relative, guardian or parent. I quite like expressing all my worries to a friend whose advice is so sensible, it baffles me as to where she gets all her sensibleness from.
Ditch the toxic ones, keep the quality ones and always keep yourself held as your number 1 priority.