Dear Uncle [2] – Is a lot of friends a good or bad thing?

This is a series of fictitious letters to highlight some challenges and relevant advice from Uncle Ash.



Dear Uncle,

I gave it some thought about your question – what are my strengths and weaknesses? As I had written before, after my results from PU and the CET exams, I didn’t get into my desired course (Engg). The past week, given some thought, what stands out to me is the fact that I have a lot of friends. Is that a good thing –  can I consider it my strength? In the past I have been pretty good at dedicating myself to what I wanted to accomplish – I have worked hard to get good grades in my High School and have taken on extra curricular activities and have excelled at them despite a tough work load. I am also a happy person in general. Of what I think as my weaknesses, can too many friends be a weakness? I also wanted to ask your advice what to do to improve my self-confidence?



Dear Vishya,

Glad you took the time to think about what I asked you. It is important to spend time in self-analysis on and off. In Yoga, they call it swadhaaya – meaning self-study. This is critical to learn from one’s mistakes and identify what one is good at. Exactly what you did over the past few days. You should involve yourself in self-analysis more often – this will help you in making sure you are on track in achieving whatever you want to achieve in your life.

About friends – having a large number of friends in generally a good thing. You get to know a lot of people over your life and your school years form the foundation for social interaction skills. However, just a large number of friends in life or on social media such as Facebook where you don’t get to interact with all of them is pointless. What you really need to have is a set of good friends. Note, I didn’t say ‘a good set of friends’. Here, we aren’t talking numbers. But you should identify which of the friends have a lot in common with what you want to achieve in life, which of the friends really care for your success and who can inspire you to do well in life. Else ‘friends’ will come and go in life without impacting positively on your life. Say, whenever you are in a down mood, do you have a friend that can cheer you up? When you are late for submitting your practical work to the class, do you have a friend who just helps you out with his or her work or is there someone who also points out that you shouldn’t be getting to such a stage in the first place? Does he or she help you to figure out why you got to that point? That would be a great friend. Also, do you have a friend or friends who can inspire you to do better than what you are? As I was growing up, I had a friend with whom I would spend time in the evening going out for a walk while discussing our preparation for the final exams. We would exchange our learning and egg each other in trying to focus on something each of us thought was important. In other words, we challenged each other to do better. Occasionally I would go out with a friend or two and just have a good time – such as going to a movie. Thus when it comes to what you want to achieve in life, you need to identify which of your friends share the same passion as you and help you do better. Now this decision is not an easy one. At your stage in life, it could be hard to say if a friend is really helping out or just using you for bettering his or her own progress. You will soon know if you aren’t doing as good as the friend in your studies. Also learning to make good decisions early in life will help and lay that foundation you require to do well in life. So, when it comes to friends, the number doesn’t matter as much as what difference they make in your life.

But if you are interacting with all of your friends regularly and getting to know more and more, you are developing very good people-skills. This will work in your favor later in life. For e.g., my elder brother had a lot of friends With the ability to make and develop friendships, he got very good at establishing relationships and made this work to his advantage in his professional career. Knowing a lot of people is indeed a skill not all people can develop. This skills sets you up for the ability to walk to a stranger and start getting to know him quicker. Many people are averse to meeting new people and having the skill to just friend anyone is a plus. You get to learn to respect others; you develop a sense of diversity and openness both of which are critical for you to succeed in your professional (and personal) life.

This is a lot to digest. I will stop for now and continue in my next letter,


Ash Uncle

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