Everyone who knows me knows that Oprah (along with Whitney and Beyonce) is my best friend in my head. From the time I was a child in Chicago, I have learned so much from just watching and reading what she has had to say over the last 30 years. As I have enjoyed my own success over the years, the aforementioned quote has done me a world of good. The quickest way to tell who your real friends are is to need something – a favor or some help.
I truly believe that you do things for people because you want to, and you set yourself up for disappointment if you expect anything in return. It is why when I do something for someone, it is truly because I want to do it. With that said, I love helping people and I’ve committed myself to being a supportive person not only to my friends, but also my acquaintances. I even extend a helping hand to people I don’t know when the request is appropriate, within my ability and for the good. So many people have helped me that I have to pay it forward and do the same.
Working in the entertainment business can be a pretty tricky endeavor. You have so many “friends.” When the going is great, you have tons of them hanging around. However, if you ever find yourself in a rough patch or not at the top of your game, the many become few. Perfect example is that one of my sister-friends who has helped so many people is planning a series of events. She reached out to some of her “fabulous” friends in entertainment to host the events and no one replied. Crickets!
Earlier this week, she called me so disappointed that none of these people who she had helped along the way were willing to do something so simple. “I wasn’t calling asking to borrow money or dog sit for me for a week, just add your name to an event for a good cause,” she lamented. Unfortunately, none of them even had the decency to respond with a “no.”
Along the same lines, another sister-friend who was once rich and a part of the New York elite crowd fell on hard times. She could no longer afford the thousand dollar gala tickets or the summer house in the Hamptons. Just as quickly as her money disappeared so did her friends and “membership” in that society. Quickly, she found out who her real friends were. As I said to her, it was a blessing as now she is back on top, but with the knowledge of who is really in her corner. Wisdom is an invaluable commodity.
Unfortunately, the world is full of fake and phony people. It seems that the number grows exponentially the more fame and/or money you get. Like the Notorious B.I.G. said, “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems.” But, all you have to do is need something yourself, to determine whether or not you can count on your friends.
Wishing you love and ceaseless joy! Follow @NathanHWilliams on Twitter.
Nathan’s book INSPIRATION: Profiles of Black Women Changing Our World is available now.