By Shaquan Sam
Opinion: For as long as I can remember, my mom has been telling me to beware of the company I keep.
When I was a little younger, she told me to stay away from a particular person but, I didn’t listen to her.
It is not that she thinks I am better than anyone because I also have my shortcomings, but this child is way out of line. At his tender age, he smokes, drinks and is very unmannerly.
One of the reasons why you should choose your friends wisely is that people label you. For instance, if you have a friend who smokes and you’re seen with that person, automatically you are viewed as a smoker too. It is this stigma that my mother is shielding me from.
Collin Powell corroborates mom’s statement in his quote “A mirror reflects a man’s face, but what he is really like is shown by the kind of friends he chooses”. I agree with his view and hers to an extent, but I’d like to offer my own view on the subject “be mindful of the company you keep”.
Sometimes, you don’t have to follow society and stay away from a person who is labelled as “bad”. Contrary to popular beliefs, you can befriend that individual and help him/her to change. Most times, it is not that they are not willing to change, it is that no one has offered them an opportunity to consider changing.
The young man in question felt neglected by his family and turned to drugs and alcohol to ease his pain but with my friendship and assistance, he is a changed person today. Interestingly, my mommy praised me for the role I played in his life.
I am very mindful that peer pressure is real. I am cognizant that some of my peers would try to impose their bad ideas on me, but I will not succumb to peer pressure. My upbringing and conscience will not allow me to.
I have great plans for my future. Thus, I will not give anyone an opportunity to jeopardize the plans that I have for me. I insist on being a leader and not a follower. It is my aim to be a positive influence on as many peers as I can.
In a society where most of the crimes are committed by young people, I refuse to be a part of the statistics.
If we look around, we will see that young people have more opportunities now more than ever. I intend to capitalise on as many opportunities as I can, and I implore my fellow young people to do the same. Let us make meaningful contributions to the betterment of our country.
I recognise that friends are important and sometimes the people who are labelled as “bad” just need a friend. Even Christ hang around the people who were deemed bad.
Remember, friends can make positive influences in your life too. In fact, I have friends who push me to be the best that I can be and vice versa.
Be mindful of the friends you keep but if you can befriend someone and help that person to change, do not neglect that opportunity.