The question of personal growth has always been attributed to the notion that friends take the greatest credits for who we become and that they play an essential role in promoting our growth and, consequently, our success. This perception further suggests that keeping the same friends all through one’s lifetime, fully clinging onto them assures one of a better life.

I set forth to debunk this misperception. The reader will judge at the end whether or not my argument is compelling and watertight.

Sticking to a few friends has warded off growth in many people. I would term it stagnation. It has cushioned people in a somewhat comfortable and liberal state: being satisfied with what they have, where they are, and who they are without realizing that life should always appreciate. Many have missed taking shots that would have otherwise left them better placed. The comfort zone makes people oblivious to the fast-moving time as David Gilmour aptly echoes, “tired of lying in the sunshine, staying home to watch the rain. You are young and life is long, and there is time to kill today. And then one day you find, ten years have got behind you. No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.”

Dr. Meg Jay in The Defining Decade portends doom for those stuck in the mire of familiar friendships. She says:

King Hiero, some time, chanced to speak to one of his not so close friends, only to be told in a reproachful manner that he had a stinking breath. Immediately, the good king, being somewhat dismayed in himself, returned home and chided his wife, “how does it happen that you’ve never told me of this problem?” The woman being the simple, chaste and harmless dame she was said, “Sir, I had thought all men’s breath had smelled so.” This explains that our faults, the flaws we possess that are very evident but are not attuned to us, can be made apparent to us sooner by the stranger than the close friends.

Without a doubt, friends play a crucial and supportive role, but more often they are helpful in the survival mode and not in the development of virtues of thrift and self-reliance. We have inadvertently limited ourselves from accessing newer opportunities by huddling together with like-minded peers, being in constant contact with the same few people. Meg Jay further alludes that our close friends make us feel comfortable and familiar but other than support, they may have little to offer. They are usually too similar—even too similarly stuck—to provide more than sympathy. They often do not know any more about jobs or relationships than we do.

You are more likely to be bashed by your friends more than anyone else for taking up newer and more challenging pursuits. Comments like ‘umechange’ and ‘unajifanya‘ in most cases come from your friends. These comments are clear indicators of growth. Friends are easily aroused to envy when you start making something of yourself. Sad truth. On many occasions, this extends to the workplace and times often, men and women of business are exhorted to draw conscious demarcations between business and friendship.

The people we constantly refer to as “we do not have much in common” are the untapped gold mine that we sadly and erroneously decide not to hold with.

I, therefore, find it helpful that people should strive to build up a network extending beyond the all too familiar friends. It is the people you rarely talk to who might lead to fortuitous discoveries down the road, and that broad exposure. We have more to gain, from the people we do not pay attention to as compared to our self-proclaimed cronies.