Grow Your Circle Or Nurture It?

Starting over is hard.

When I first got to African Leadership Academy life was hard. I am generally a person who cherishes relationships and enjoys the company of my friends(like most people) and just chilling. However I am also one of those people who is very self aware like before I start dancing I look over my shoulder to check if there is anyone watching….yeah I know you saying I do that too. 

So when I arrived at this new school(I will write about that sometime later) my biggest fear was if I would make friends? Was I going to establish solid relationships like the ones I had left back home in Zimbabwe? I could hear the voices in my head screaming “NO! NO!” and I believed them. The first two weeks were horrid and terrible. Everyone on campus would smile and say “Hi Im so so from such and such a country.” All very pleasant and I just found this very strange I had never been to a school where everyone is nice to everyone and takes time to say hi to EVERYONE!

This though made things better, made the fear of approaching people less. As the weeks went on I started making acquaintances and meeting new people from different countries. I kept saying to myself the only way I would know if I had settled in was if I had established a circle of friends. To me in any environment human beings who are surrounded by a good support system tend to thrive more. If I was going to survive I would need a support system-a circle.

A month passed and I slowly began to grow my circle but as the time went by my circle became more defined and tighter. I started performing better, I was much louder in class and outside of class, I stopped missing more. I was surviving. However the problem was now that finding time to expand my circle was becoming scarce because I was now spending time with my current friends-I was nurturing my circle.

Which brings me to my predicament. Last night I had this discussion with a close friend of mine. How do you manage spending time with the people most closest to you and spending time getting to know more people as well. Is it possible? Is it important and why? 

 Putting things into context you find yourself in a multicultural, multilingual school with at least two hundred students and you only have two years with these intelligent, crazy, witty, creative people. You establish your circle, your clique, your people, your crew which is very natural. These are people you see at every chance you get. For me that would be snack, lunch, after school at 3.20pm, at supper, and after prep at 10.30pm. Now do you split your time between spending time with them and also creating opportunities to get to know other people better.

If you choose the latter then you stop spending as much time with the same people all the time and through that you inevitably get to know your self better as you constantly surround yourself with different people who bring out different sides of you. You find yourself learning more about other people as well and you prevent yourself from falling into a label(the oh its the “clever ones” or “the pretty girls” or the “the wannabe gangstas”) you become versatile. The danger of this though is like my mother always said if you become a Jack of all traits then you become a master at none. You possibly will not get the chance to really know any of these people in depth and you will not be able to give yourself fully as a friend because you are just spread too thin.

The former would be you establish your ground and after that you put in time and effort to the people you really care about and make memories with them that will last forever. You get value equal to the effort you invest. The downside though is that you lose yourself within those people. You become one of those people who when you can’t be found people say “if you can’t find him then look for so and so he will probably be with him”. I as Keith stop existing and I become Keith so and so’s friend.

So what do you do which one do you do? Are you on one of the extremes or have you found middle ground? Are you expanding your circle or are you nurturing it? Or are you one of those super human beings who does both? 

This is my predicament which as human beings we constantly find ourselves in whether we acknowledge it or not. For me I have come to realize this especially now in my time of finding my feet and building new bridges… 

Im starting over and it is hard but I’m surviving because of my support system.


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