So I'm an only child, right? My mom and dad divorced early and never had any other kids. My mom raised me solo and worked all day, so I spent a lot of my childhood by myself, aside from a few years I lived with my cousin and aunt when I was in elementary school. I learned to play by myself, entertain myself, essentially never becoming bored.
I also grew up sheltered from the world's evils by my Baptist Christian family, strict on grammar, manners and a healthy dose of church, and not just on Sundays either. Usher board meeting every 3rd Monday of the month, junior usher board practice every 5th Saturday, and don't let someone's funeral be on a Saturday and my mother/grandmother decided to help out the bereavement board; so long cartoons and cereal, hello serving fried chicken, mac n cheese, rolls and red punch.
I basically grew up depending on myself, and blind to life's ills until I grew older.
When you grow up with just yourself in a sheltered situation, it's never easy to make friends. Opening up to people who were previously total strangers, sharing your inner-most thoughts with them and hoping they won't judge you and call you a weirdo; the thought alone used to make me shudder. And it's not even that I was anti-social, or a even a loaner, I just didn't fuck with people like that (I still don't). As I got older, I came out of my shell and let more people in and eventually made plenty of good friends, a few of whom I'm still tight with to this day. But the power circle didn't come about until I stepped foot on campus at the University of Mount Union in August 2007.
A power circle?? Yes, THAT power circle. Something like one that MMG referred to on the intro to "Self Made Vol. 2." With the dope ass Kendrick Lamar and Gunplay verses. And the dope ass Lee Major beat. Why Rick Ross thinks Michael Jackson would tell anyone to smoke one in his honor is something I'll never understand.
All honesty though, I had zero intentions of any of this happening. Remember, I didn't fuck with people. I planned on keeping the same friends I had in Cleveland, people I had been tight with since grade school. We talked about how we'd all come home every chance we got on weekends and during breaks. I didn't see a reason to change, or a reason to get buddy-buddy with anybody who didn't know me or where I came from. But it all came together in some sort of divine plot twist that even I couldn't have imagined. After my first visit to Mount, Al reached out to me on Facebook, which I thought was cool of him to do. We worked together at an amusement park that summer, and got to know each other pretty well. I met Ryan on a summer preview visit, we were both coming to play basketball at Mount, and also got to know each other pretty well those 2 days on campus. I met Ron during open gym (nigga had the nerve to forcefully lay the ball up over me, like he was going to dunk on me. TUH!!), and even though he was meek and shy, we cracked his shell pretty soon with a few late-night Halo/Call Of Duty sessions. I met Gabe through Ron, they had been best friends since foreverton, and Ben is Gabe's little brother, soon adopted into the fold once he proved his worth on his 21st birthday (insert crying laughing emoji!) We've laughed together, argued with one another, shit-talked and clowned each other and even fought for one another. We've leaned on each constantly for advice in all realms, both professional and personal. Our iPhone group chat is legendary; even if it does annoy the shit out of our significant others. We mentor to and confide in each other, knowing that each of our individual attributes makes our collective that much stronger. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t shout out my other homies who contribute to my power circle, like Slocum, B. Stalley, M. Stacks, D. Grind, Dex, T-rey, Kathrine, Ron B, Tone and Pops. I can say without hesitation, that without these people in my life, I don’t know where I’d be today. Probably in a ditch with my ass wet.
There's a saying I saw on some Instagram post a while back that made a lot of sense; people either come into your life for a reason, or a season, or a lifetime. Eventually, you'll come to realize that some folks are temporary, others are permanent, family members included. Everybody you meet isn't going to be your friend, nor are they always going to be friendly. It's important that you understand this when forming your own personal power circle. Surrounding yourself with a bunch of ball-hangers and nut-huggers may seem like fun, till you realize how worthless their presence is. Do yourself a favor and leave them lames at the velvet rope. Because a power circle isn't you and your niggas sharing a bottle in a tiny-ass VIP booth, so quit snap-chatting bottles with sparklers that aren't for you; you're not fooling anyone big fella.
The purpose of a power circle is for everyone involved to win. There's no better feeling then watching your homeboy win, knowing you and a few others had a hand in his success. When I was going through a career change recently, I leaned on the power circle for constant critique and advice. A few edited cover letters and resumes here, some emailed job postings here. When I got the job, they were the first ones I told, and I knew their excitement for me was genuine. Be sure to keep good people around you who will share in your successes, and avoid those plotting your downfall.
My last piece of advice is this; expect the hate and embrace the haters. You'll notice them soon enough, especially when your power circle starts racking up wins. Don't sweat them. They probably wish they could come along for the ride. Remember the wise words of Gunplay:
"When you finish first they hate you worse, startin' to see now."