Dime con quien andas, y te dire quien eres.”
If you grew up in a latino household, this was a saying that you frequently heard – mostly when your mother was talking sh*t about one of your friends that she didn’t approve of. At least that was the case for me. See, when I was younger (I can’t believe I can even say things like that now) I had poor taste in friends. I was mostly a good girl, sassy but harmless, but similar to my taste in boyfriends, my taste in girlfriends leaned in the other direction – I liked troublemakers. They just seemed to have way more fun! They were fearless, talking back to adults without fear of consequences, staying out late, saying cuss words…in comparison to my very-structured existence, it was glamorous! But as I got older, I learned that the excitement also came with plenty of drama, and it wasn’t that glamorous after all.
Troublemakers were also self-centered, liars, flakes, and slackers – qualities I now try to stay away from. I was a smart kid, but since my friends thought that getting good grades was lame, I of course did just enough to get by, like they did. I already wasn’t fearless or glamorous, you’ll remember, I wasn’t about to put more distance between our commonalities by being a nerdy nerd.
It wasn’t until I got to college that I realized I could be 100% myself – nerdy, silly, (ahem, moody) – and still make friends – people who had values similar to mine and who encouraged me to go after the things I wanted. Now that I have lived a little longer, I see that those are the only kind of friends I want in my life.
It sounds hippy-dippy, but I truly believe that I can be friends with anyone, no matter their choice in hobbies, career, fashion, even sense of humor – I only need for them to be encouraging, accepting and real, as I am with them. When you’re young, you think that in order to be friends with someone, you have to like the same things and be the same way. The problem for me was that I wasn’t quite sure WHAT things I liked or WHO I wanted to be, so I just fell in with whatever crowd seemed “cool” and did my best to be accepted. The thing is, our tastes and hobbies are constantly changing, but the things that remain constant are our values. THAT is what needs to match in the people your surround yourself with.
If you look at my circle of friends – none of us are the same. We all have different careers, hobbies, styles. Some of us have kids, while others aren’t even married yet and are in no hurry to change that. So what makes us friends if we are so different? We are all strong, powerful women. We inspire, motivate and encourage one another to be the best possible version of ourselves. We accept each other and we respect (even appreciate) our differences. The real measure of a true friend is whether she will push you or hold you back, and while I haven’t always been able to, today I can proudly say that all of the women I surround myself with fall in the former category.