Yesterday, I met up with some friends from school. These are people I spent about three to four of my university years with. In a while, we hadn’t seen each other and we planned a meet-up to catch up on lost times.

On our way to the place, Nana Elikem, in venting his little frustration that some of our friends canceled at the last-minute, made a simple but powerful statement. He said, “GUYS, WE NEED TO INVEST IN FRIENDSHIPS.”

I don’t know why he said it, but the statement hit me. It got me thinking.

FRIENDSHIPS. INVEST.

As I thought about it, it occurred me that all human relationships are like stocks on the market – you make a real, carefully planned and meaningful investment in them, with the hope that someday and somehow, you’ll yield some good returns.

Many (if not all) of us have been told at one point in our lives that we should “BE CAREFUL IN CHOOSING YOUR FRIENDS.” As much as this piece of advice might probably be one of the most used by parents and guardians alike, it is also one of the most powerful.

The idea that you need to invest in your human relationships also means that you should be INTENTIONAL about who you call a friend. I say to people, “not everyone I meet in life is a friend”.

We probably sat in the same class for years, but you’re not my friend. You’re my classmate.

We work together in the same company and share the same office space. It doesn’t make you my friend. We’re working colleagues.

We attend the same Church.  We see each other every other Sunday to worship and listen to the Word of the Lord. It doesn’t make you my friend. We’re church members and acquaintances at best.

You’re my friend when I say you are. When I’m choosing my friends, I do so by looking for out for some specific things.

People who share my values as a person. People with whom I share similar goals. People who can help me become a better person than I am now by bringing some balance to areas where I am weaker. People that challenge, motivate and urge me. People I share similar interests with.

The fact that you carefully look out for all these details and more is the reason you need to (that word again) “INVEST” in your friendships.

After choosing your friend(s), the real work begins. You need to be conscious of the fact that they’re your friends and, like all humans, they have needs.   Spend real and quality time with them. Constant communication is necessary to keep the friendship alive. Don’t make the friendship about you. Make it about them as well. Support and encourage their dreams and aspirations.

Learn to be honest about their flaws without being a jerk about it, and be ready for same from them.

Make them a part of your life. Be there for them. Respect them. Learn to agree to disagree about issues with them. Be their go-to person when they need help or a listening ear.

All of these may sound like work. Yes! They are, and that’s why it’s an investment. Truth is that you may not see the returns now, like many stocks you invest in, but it’ll pay off in time.

Just make sure you’re intentional about it. Good things don’t come by accident. They’re worked at, and so is friendship.

Beyond all these, you should also be conscious of the fact that just as a stock you invest in can fail despite your best strategies to them to work, some friendships will fail no matter how hard you try.

Some friends will betray you along the line. Don’t take it personally. See it as a failed investment. Others are going to walk out of your life when they meet new people. It’s part of human behavior. Move on with your life when that happens.

A blogger, Mike Zaccio, summed this up in a brilliant way.

He said “…I’ve come to the realization that friends are like stocks — you invest in them, hoping you’ll be happy with the return; you’ll go through ups and downs, but ultimately stick with them; if they no longer become of value to you, you dump it. Cruel? Maybe. But think about it. I don’t know about you, but I view my time as valuable, and I don’t want to sacrifice it for people who give me nothing in return. And just for the record, when I say “give me nothing in return,” I mean things like happiness, consideration and loyalty.”

The Writer: Victor Tekpetey

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