Enlarging your circle of friends

Published 10:18 pm Wednesday, September 5, 2018

By QuaWanna Bannarbie

Aristotle said, “Wishing to be friends is quick work, but friendship is a slow ripening fruit.”
When was the last time you made a new friend?

Now that the school year has begun, one of the questions I am eager to ask my children at the end of their day is whether or not they made a new friend. I know it may seem a bit unrealistic to expect an affirmative response on the first day of school or even during the first week of school. But I do. I am hopeful that my children will connect with at least one new person and that this connection has the potential to grow into a friendship. Like any ripening fruit in the process of development, friendship requires a seed. Sometimes, that seed is a simple introduction.

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As I was completing the required paperwork during open house last week, I was listening to a nearby conversation between a new parent at Hillpoint Elementary School and my son’s teacher. The mother said that her family recently moved to Suffolk from Southampton County. I looked up to see her son looking around at the teacher’s room decor. My son was standing near me when I asked him to go over and introduce himself to the new student.

He was reluctant to do as I asked, so I encouraged him with a truth. Here was his chance to get a jump on a potential new friend prior to the start of school. This truth pleased my son. As soon as the teacher and the parents moved just far enough away so that my son could approach the boy without them witnessing the event, I overheard him sharing things about himself and his school. I was so proud. Within minutes, the boys were asking their respective parents whether they could leave us to go on a tour around the school. I declined but then took that opportunity to introduce myself to the boy’s parents.

The parents may not remember me, but they will surely remember that my son welcomed their son to the school. This week, my son cashed in on his prior actions. It turns out that the boys ride the same bus each day. My son gained a schoolmate and potentially a neighborhood playmate just from an introduction.

This encounter impressed upon me the importance of being a daring friender — a word that never existed before social media. A daring friender is willing to make an introduction in order to close the gap in the degrees of separation between friends so that the connection between them is much shorter. The advent of social media has changed the theory that it is possible that connections are made between a chain of six acquaintances. These days, that chain can be much shorter.

Life is defined as the condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity and continual change preceding death. The degree to which we connect and enlarge our circles of friends also distinguishes us as living beings. Take this dare with me. Make a new friend this month. All it takes is an introduction.

QuaWanna Bannarbie is an adjunct professor of nonprofit leadership and management with Indiana Wesleyan University, National and Global. Her children attend Suffolk Public Schools. Connect with her via Twitter @QNikki_Notes.