How To Support Your Friends Even When You Disagree With Them

Supporting Someone Means Respecting Their Decisions, Even If You Don't Agree With Them

To all those optimistic dreamers out there who want to meet people of different backgrounds and viewpoints, you need to go into new relationships with your eyes wide open.


Sometimes, the people we become friends with are incredibly different from us. That isn't a bad thing, is it? After all, a common criticism of brilliant artists who allow themselves to pursue objectively unappealing work is that they are surrounded only by "yes-men" and lack sufficient pushback. Diversity of character breeds diversity of thought, something necessary to being well-rounded.

I think a lot of people come to college expecting to escape their boring old towns and find a wealth of like-minded people that they mesh with. It's a phenomenon brought on by all those stories of dreamers who really find their people during these four "best" years of their lives. That's not always what you encounter.

Most people recognize, generally, that they can coexist with people that they are different from. You can relate to people on fundamental levels separate from obvious interests. For example, the thing that cinched the fact that my roommate and I get along so well is that she's willing to have conversations with me during the wee hours of the night, when it's so dark and cozy in our dorm room that we can say whatever is on our minds.

We can respect others who are different from us for being human, but I think that it needs saying as well that such respect means acknowledging that those "different" people have their own agency. You cannot control someone else, even if you don't agree with them.

To all those optimistic dreamers out there who want to meet people of different backgrounds and viewpoints, you need to go into new relationships with your eyes wide open. You can find camaraderie, and maybe even deep conversation, but you cannot forcefully convert anyone over to a new worldview. Sometimes, it will be necessary to live and let live with your peers, and if that does not sound conducive to you, your mental health, or your personal safety, it may be best not to be around people whose views so divulge from your own.

People aren't one-note characters in an indulgent screenplay who are waiting, begging to be saved. This means that you both have to tolerate people whose lifestyles are alien to you and recognize that, if you're truly only around someone to make them a better person, your time might be better spent elsewhere.

Everyone has the capacity to make their own decisions, however strange or detrimental they seem to you. You are not your new best friend's guardian. Respect those around you, and respect yourself.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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