Dime con quien andas y te dire quien eres. Tell me who you run with and I’ll tell you who you are.
If you’ve heard this particular saying, it’s likely it wasn’t offered in praise of your friend/girlfriend/boyfriend. Perhaps it was your mother after a dinner with your girlfriend, or an older brother after meeting your boyfriend, or grandmother commenting on your friends who won’t leave. Your family members are asking: if your friends have such bad habits, what’s to stop you from joining them with time?
There are many who believe this saying is nothing more than a judgemental sentiment, that our assessments of people are often superficial. Your friends’ “bad habits”, like smoking, drinking, or swearing, doesn’t mean they aren’t hardworking, patient, and trustworthy people.
However, I wholeheartedly believe in the truth underlying this saying. While we often hear it said in a negative way, this saying can serve as a jump-off point for introspection. Why do you value your friends and their opinions? Who do you turn to in certain situations and why? Many of us notice that our friends tend to hold similar viewpoints as us. Whether this is intentional or not depends largely on how you and your friends met. Did your families know each other? Did you grow up together? Did you grow up in the same area? Or within the same community? Maybe you all grew up in the Latino community in Chicago, or attended the same Catholic church in Miami. Maybe you and your friends met in a structured setting, like a cooking class or volunteer organization. Either way, the things you find valuable in your friends reflects what you find valuable in general. It doesn’t mean you agree with everything your friends believe, but that in key areas you are compatible.
Yet, even if you subscribe to this philosophy, as I do, the question remains: do you choose friends who are similar to you, or do you and your friends mutually mold each other as you get to know each other?
In truth both happen. Once in awhile we meet someone we instantly connect with, whom after ten minutes we’re joking around and making plans with. Sometimes we meet friends by coincidence, like the person who waits at the same bus stop as us every morning. Other times, we deliberately look for friends with similar tastes. We might make friends at the gym or sports team, at concerts, at our favorite coffee shop, etc. Both situations, the accidental and the intentional, can lead to strong friendships, but the fact remains that we tend to have much in common with our friends. These relationships serve to reinforce as well as validate our beliefs, and as long as we recognize that opposing opinions exist, these relationships can be healthy.
O sea que, dime con quien andas y te dire quien eres: While this saying is usually wielded against us in criticism, it is equally useful as a tool for self-analysis.