Dear Elsie,

One of the indispensable things of life is the fact that you will meet people. There are some people God binds us to them and we do not have a choice or an option about them. These people are usually family. There is another group of people who we choose. Usually, we find that we have things in common with these people and we decide that they deserve a place in our lives or we need them in our lives so we keep them. These people are our friends.

Elsie, friendship is a wonderful thing. Having a friend makes you feel loved and cared for. It gives an assurance that there is someone whom you can count on in times of your need. Indeed, some have found their friends more dependable than their families.

Friendship is a blessing. Same can be a curse. Whichever of these two extremes your path of friendship takes depends on who you call a friend. Elsie, this is why you must CHOOSE your friends. Do not just fall into a company, be deliberate in deciding who you invite into your life and call a friend. At the risk of encouraging a not-so-good trait, be selective. I believe that when it comes to choosing friends, mother humanity appreciates our being picky.

“Show me your friend and I will show you your character”.

This is an adage you will hear one too many times as you get older. It is a clichè that holds true. Your friend reflects who or what you are. If you have a good friend, you are very much likely to be known and called a good person; the reverse is true. Our friends are like mirrors. We see ourselves in them just like they see themselves in us.

Many a time, you would hear stories of how friends have fuelled the success or failure of a person. How much stake our friends have in determining what we become needs no telling. A certain Dr Hyder Zahe of Huffpost opines that by choosing friends, we are charting our destinies. Unfortunately, many do not know this so they become friends with just anyone.

Make friends with people who would help you realise your vision, make you a better person and walk with you through all the thorny and smooth paths of your life. Make friends with people who will raise you up when you are down. Friends who would keep you going. People who would offer their hand for support and urge you to get up from a fall.

When I was in university, I became friends with a girl whom I consider God-sent. This friend of mine encouraged me to learn. Her encouragement was not only in words but in actions. She would practically pull me to the library and made sure I studied. According to her, I would fall asleep if I studied in my room since I loved my bed more than anything else. And she was right. That had been my routine. My visits to the library became constant and yielded positive results. My GPA for that semester soared above the danger zone and I was elated. This is a friend who wants me to succeed and I have been smart enough to keep her by my side even after we left school.  She helped me realise my vision of becoming a better student.

Too many people have been caught in a web of every bad thing they never wished to be because of friends. We tend to pick up the habits of our company. That is why it is prudent to ensure that the people who allow into your circle are going to contribute positively to your growth and success.

When I was young, I used to hear my neighbour tell his son, “Do not fall into bad company. Don’t keep bad friends because they make you do bad things”. As mundane as this sounds, it holds true.  His son unfortunately did not heed this golden advice of his dad. He became exactly what his dad feared.

Just as I have admonished you to select friends who will be beneficial to you, I urge you to also ensure that you add value to the lives of all the people who open their lives to you, bring you in and keep you as a friend. Be the light that makes them shine, encourage them and be everything you would want your friends to be to you. It’s a two-way thing.

My dear Elsie, when you get your vision carved as you grow, be friends with people who would help you realise that vision. It is important. Any other kind of friend would dissuade you from your course of action. Let not friendship be an airborne disease you catch.  Let it be a decision you make. Friendship is a choice; make a good one.

Until I write to you again my dear Elsie, I remain yours sincerely, Fathiya.