By Augustine Kinaalwa
Many students don’t mind about the kind of friends they make at campus. They keep around themselves tricky friends who cast a very damaging influence on them; messing up their entire campus life and future. They learn nasty behavior from their friends usually against their will (for reasons like fitting in the group) and can’t figure out how they can escape once they are trapped in the circle.
It is not good to judge any person, but it is justifiable if you judge one’s bad behavior; because then you stand a chance of not picking up what is bad, even when all people around you insist it is cool and trendy. Almost all Ugandan campusers that have gone wild from their good personalities have picked up wrong examples from friends; trying to gain acceptance or to be liked.
I can define a social circle as a group of interconnected people. A poisonous social circle can be built up in this way:
You make friends with someone who is a drug addict. A few days later he finds you repulsive because you think his habits are abnormal and should quit them. However, you enjoy his company so much (guy has an irresistible and perfect sense of humor) and you can’t figure out how you can live a boring campus life with no crazy friend.
Now, your crazy friend; let’s call him Jimmy, has organized a drink-up party at his place. You see it as an opportunity to meet a whole new bunch of his other friends who are even more insane than him. The party takes place at night and you start to like everything. Four crazy boys and seven crazy girls at a night party, doing booze – that’s awesome campus life. You find out that the girls are even wilder than the boys.
Evil is sweet. You now can’t leave this group, can you?
You’re now proud to be a passive smoker. You even post that on Facebook. The devil has begun to eat you through your friends. The next thing we learn from you is; you can now smoke at least 8 pieces a day. You can supplement that with a few puffs of weed whenever you like. You now have more passion for your evil group than its founding fathers. You also begin to recruit new members. Baptism happens at night at Jimmy’s place. Jimmy lights up the candles. You serve the cigarettes and chewing gum. The girls chew gum of large a size as your fist. What else is there to do?
Tattoos and gambling…
Now I think you have a good picture of what I’m talking about. A bad friend will connect you to bad friends, who will also connect you to more bad friends – worse than them. So, at the end of the day you end up in a nasty framework of totally crazy friends who never came to campus to study, but to explore the world to its fullest.
So, what can you do if you find yourself in such a situation? How can you deal with your friends?
The first thing you should do is to meditate. Sit down alone and in silence and review your goals. Remind yourself of the reasons why you came to university and what you want in life. Write down your goals and your future plans; including everything you would want to achieve in life.
Second, develop the courage to speak out against everything you find inappropriate about your friends. Let them know that you’re not ready to change your personality so as to fit in their group. If they are true friends, they will accept you for who you are and will not try to change you. In fact they may admire your unique lifestyle and adapt to you eventually.
You know one thing that is hard to break once established? It’s an addiction.
Many people fight every day to quit alcohol and smoking. So if your friends have a bad habit you think is cool, dare not copy that. You can find nice ways of talking to your friends about their bad vices that are hurting you and your studies.
Stand firm and let them know you can’t keep up with them if your values are not in sync with theirs. As always, the best way to avoid entering a dangerous social circle is to identify beforehand the potentially harmful people and to try as much as possible not to become their best friends.
Invest your energy in making friends that will develop you academically, spiritually, financially and socially. Make friends who will open opportunities for you in the outside world – friends who may not seem to be an interesting company to keep around, but are mindful about their studies and the future of their friends.