I'm sure you're familiar with the quote "You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with" from motivational speaker Jim Rohn, but it took me more than enough time to hear about its ending.
Without a doubt, we, as individuals, are products of what surrounds us. I mean, even "you are what you eat" implies that sustenance that is readily available and that of which we choose dictates some sort of the way that we function in our everyday lives, if not even the way we identify ourselves. If the concept can apply to the abundance of inanimate things in our lives, it certainly must for those people who occupy the most of our time.
The more of it that we give to others, the increased amount of opportunities we allow for them to influence us in some way or another. Their verbiage, mannerisms, and mentalities may start to rub off on us until we are slowly altered little by little.
Of course, the five people we spend the most time with are also presumably dividing their time between four other people, assuming the amount of time you spend with them is a somewhat significant amount in their own lives. What you receive from a select five is actually a combination of the traits they've adopted from five of their own. And as odd as it sounds, most of what you're comprised of is likely thanks in part to people you've never even met before – at least certainly not your five.
As a matter of fact, the quote generalizes for this very reason. It's often argued that the makeup of one's personality – including intellect, habits, and disposition – are derived from many more sources in much more complex ways.
This, of course, is certainly true to some extent. We are bound to pick and adopt the characteristics that we are exposed to the most, but people are not calculated so cleanly as Rohn may claim. The likelihood of becoming more like our best friend who we interact with on a daily basis is undoubtedly higher than someone else we may see considerably less. However, there is some sort of conscious decision on what we allow ourselves to absorb — it's not always completely involuntary.
No matter where you stand on the quote's veracity, it's vital to admit that it is absolutely crucial to be selective with whom you are giving your time. As we grow older, lose time, and only hope to become more and more like the person we've always envisioned ourselves being, we need to surround ourselves with those whose outlooks and practices align with that of our own.
I think it's also telling that one of those five can simply be ourselves. Us introverted types who tend to finally relax after time on our own come to frequent self-realizations. Sometimes the pressures endured by socialization put our true personalities on hold for a moment, in a box. Without these confines present, we are free to explore more of who we are naturally. No matter if we are under anyone else's influence, alone time allows us to refamiliarize ourselves with the way we behave innately.
Your time is valuable. Be careful of who you decide deserves it because it could very well affect you more than anyone else.