In Spanish we have a saying: “Dime con quien andas, y te diré quien eres.” Which translates to something like “tell me who you are with, and I’ll tell you who you are.” When I first came to college in Nashville, Tenn., I wanted to meet as many people as I could. I was excited about the new opportunities to meet lots of new friends. I didn’t know that in America they did this in a different way. At least, it was different for me because I was used to something completely different.
After a couple of weeks living on campus and mingling with other students, I noticed there was some kind of separation between upperclassmen and freshmen. I didn’t really know the magnitude of this social segregation until I had to choose whom to eat lunch with every day.
Because we live on campus, we spend almost all day with our friends at school. Depending on the company, your experience at school can change drastically. It is almost as if natural selection takes place whenever new groups of people meet.
Is it OK to select who you want to be friends with? I think it is, but what happens with the people you choose not to be friends with? This point is something that I keep struggling with in my mind. If you know someone’s name or if you talked to that person before, according to my worldview, the correct thing to do is to say “hello.” It doesn’t matter if he or she is not an upperclassmen or if that person is not your “type” of person. It is rude not to say hi.
Now, let’s look at this from the opposite point of view. You could say: “I want to select my friends based on the year they are in, and based on their interests.” Maybe 40 percent of the students at my university choose this option and decide to socialize only with these people.
Whom you are with, most of the time, is going to define who you turn out to be. The friendships that you have in college are going to change your future in different ways. It might be possible that the person you see every day and never say hi to, turns out to be the president of the a company you work for one day.
Being polite is free. You can take advantage of that and start saying hi to your potential boss or to your potential new friend!
Did something similar ever happen to you? Have you been part of the “natural selection” at your school or place of work?