Choosing your friends wisely

Zachary Woodworth, Features Editor

When I was little, my grandfather would always tell me how important it was to be careful who I was friends with. More than once, he sat me down and explained that one day when I was older, I had to make sure I was not friends with people who would ruin my life.

He explained that if I was out with friends and, without my knowledge, one of my friends robbed a convenience store, I could be arrested as an accomplice.

“Even if you don’t know what happened, if you are in the car when he gets caught, you’ll go to jail for a long time,” he would say.

Obviously this is an extremely unlikely scenario, but the point of my grandfather’s warning was clear: being careful about who you spend your time with is very important.

I would argue that this is especially important during college. For most people, the four years of college are a time of great change. Most people are living in a new environment, being exposed to all sorts of new people and ideas. It is also most people’s first time living without the support of family and familiar surroundings. Because of this, friends have a larger influence on our lives. They are the ones we spend most of our free time with and rely on for support.  For this reason, being careful who you spend your time around is very important.

There are more characteristics other than being a criminal that can serve as bad influences. People with destructive tendencies like excessive drinking or anger issues can be just as toxic to be around, because their behavior can affect your life in negative ways. Other people are manipulative and only interact with you if it serves their own purposes.     

I’m not saying it is a good idea to isolate yourself from everyone in order to avoid getting hurt. Nor am I advocating cutting all ties with someone because they have a personality trait you don’t like. But I do think that we should all be careful who we spend our time around, and who we allow ourselves to get close to.

I had a friend who grew really close to a person who at first seemed kind and genuine, only to find out later that that person was toxic to be around. The problem is that by the time they realized it, they had classes together and saw each other outside of class on a regular basis. My friend had no idea how to end the relationship, because they would still see each other in class.

By the time my friend realized the mistake they had made, it was too late to remove the destructive influence without significant backlash.

In college, the friends you make have a greater impact on your life than they do outside of college. If you become friends with the wrong person, the negative impact they can have on your life can be catastrophic. And at a college as small as Berry, it can become extremely difficult to cut them out of your life.

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