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How to Have The Most Fulfilling Friendships With The Whole World

One of the most fulfilling things a person can add to their lives are some well-rounded friends. As social animals we need other people to survive, haven’t you watched enough movies where people go crazy from being alone? Now here’s my question to you, do you have friends from different ethnicities and backgrounds, or is everyone in your friend group more or less the same? 

For the people who answered, “Yeah, I guess we are all _____.” I want to know what, apart from your similar counterparts, do you care about? What things make you question the reasons for why our society functions the way it does? Here’s the thing, I hate to break it to you, but a majority of the world does not fit into the little circle you have allowed yourself to take space in. Yes, it is easier when you and all of your friends can talk about the same things and relate, but imagine how much you could learn (and save yourself embarrassment from) if you opened that circle up just a little bit more. Having one friend that is outside of your race, religious beliefs or even political affiliations is not enough to say you understand everything about that subject. Please understand that it is only the starting point to understanding more. Saying you have a black friend and then saying the N-word all in the same breath because they gave you a pass is not going to fly here in 2020. Heck, it never did, but we all start somewhere right.

Original illustration by Kristina Stapelfeld

For the people who answered, “Of course, my friend group is diverse AF!” I want to now know if you are 100% positive that those friends feel seen and heard in your group. A lot of the time (depending on the ratio of people of color and white people in your group), we might not be as open and confident to speak our truth as the others may be. Yes, there are some of us that, regardless of the group, will speak our minds. But when it comes to the more difficult conversations, do you hear their points as much as you make yours? Make it a point to ask your friends about the “awkward” things you have always had questions about but never the confidence to actually ask. For example, if you are white, maybe ask your friend (from a different race) about their opinions on the justice system or simply how they feel about the things happening in popular culture. In asking these questions and having a conversation that goes beyond the surface level, you are not only educating yourself but creating a safe space for your friend. Again, understand that one person’s opinions on any subject does not reflect the opinions of the entire group that shares that person’s race, political views, etc.

Here’s my last tip (if you will). When your friend brings up something you have done that didn’t sit well with them because it was offensive to who they are racially, culturally or whatever, don’t try to argue or validate your actions. Listen to them and apologize, ask questions if you still don’t understand, but be very careful not to make the same mistake again. You may not realize how hurtful what you said or did may be to them, and it would be a shame to lose a friend because of your own ignorance. 

Living in a world as diverse as we do is not something that should be tearing us apart from one another. We should be growing collectively and appreciating the blessings and beauty that comes with our differences. Having a group of friends that is diverse not only opens your own mind about the kinds of people that are out there, but even soften your heart and allows for empathy to sit somewhere in it. Whether you know it or not, your spot on this planet is important because only you fulfill your role. Imagine how amazing it would be if we all used our roles to uplift first our inner circles, and then subsequently the rest of the world. 

Niya Ahmed is currently in junior year of college at VCU and hopes to graduate with a bachelors degree in English and a minor in creative writing, at least for now. She is a advocate of furthering her education as well as the education of her peers. She enjoys all things media such as movies, social media apps and music. On any given day you can find her with her headphones in or a book in her hand. Niya has been writing for all her life although it is recently she has began to publish publicly. To find more of Niya follow her Instagram: niyaahmed22 or on Twitter: niya_ahmed18
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