I don’t have a cheesy quote about friendship with which to start this article. I’m not going to say, “A best friend is like a four-leaf clover: hard to find, lucky to have,” or “Friends buy you food.”
All I know is that there is so much value in choosing the right friends and in mindfully surrounding yourself with the right kind of people for you.
That’s a lesson I’ve been taught all my life (Yes, Mom, you were right) and one I’m learning to teach myself every day.
Life is full of challenges and trials. Each part of life — childhood, high school, college, adulthood — comes with its own set of challenges that are unique to that stage and different for every person. Those challenges make having good friends around such a necessity.
While I know this to be true, I’m learning that there is a great difference between the person someone can be and the person someone is. And either of those can be the right or wrong type of person you need in your life.
The people you surround yourself with can make the difference between your success and your failure. Your confidence and your lack thereof. Your happiness and your sorrow. And sometimes, they cause the latter of these.
The friends you choose might be perfectly fine people. They might be focused, kind and genuine. But that doesn’t mean they’re the right people for you. On the surface, they might have qualities that make you think you’re doing yourself a favor by keeping them around, but underneath, in the comments they make or the attitude they have, they might be detrimental to you.
If someone around you makes you emotionally uncomfortable or anxious, be cautious. If they continuously steal your joy or make you feel unappreciated, turn the other way. If you’re constantly rethinking your ability to be a good friend, chances are it’s not you. If they make you feel “less than,” they’re not a good friend and they’re not someone you should have around you.
We should make no room in our lives for people who drain us of our self-confidence.
College is a hard time for every college student. Finding time to even have friends and hang out with them is often a struggle. Because of that, it’s extremely important to use that time that you do have and dedicate it to people who will add joy to it and, most importantly, value it.
Every day I’m learning the difference between a good friend and a bad friend, and I’m learning that those two are defined differently for every person.
For me, a bad friend is one who hurts others around them because they’re hurting. A bad friend is one who, sometimes subtly, drains confidence and joy out of others to feel better about themselves.
There’s so much value in finding the right kind of friend for you and surrounding yourself with that type of person. Separating yourself from people who tear you down is one of the best things you can do for yourself.
I’m realizing that it’s not my job to deal with other people’s demons. And I’m realizing that I don’t want to be the kind of friend that makes others feel like they have to deal with mine.
Determining the right kind of people to have around you is not always black and white. The people around you can be hindering you from success and joy without you even knowing. In the small things, like their attitude and subtle comments they might make, they could be tearing you down little by little.
My advice? Take some time for yourself. Try isolating yourself and reigniting passions you might have lost. Who knows, you might feel more confident, passionate and ambitious. Or you might feel lost and know that you are surrounding yourself with people who make you feel confident, cared for and supported.
What all of this boils down to is that I’m beginning to realize just how quickly time flies and just how short life really is. Every single human being has potential, no matter their past, present or future. The kind of people you interact with everyday impact that potential: they either heighten it or they dismiss it. Finding what helps you be your best and what hurts you and keeps you from reaching your greatest potential is crucial.
Anyone who steals your passion and leaves you feeling worse about yourself is not worth your time. Focus your time and attention on yourself and the right kind of support system for you, and you’ll thrive.