It is nearly impossible to become a better version of yourself without the support of those who you surround yourself with. Although not completely impossible it is damn hard to climb that steep hill. Where at the top of the hill is where you want to be. Top of the hill is representing the better version of yourself.
In this article, I want to highlight the importance of careful and deliberate selection of friends.
Story from my past
I’ll draw from my personal experience and start with a story. I had this friend growing up Grant, starting from when I was about 5 or 6 years old. We were really great friends we often spent a lot of afternoons after school and weekends hanging out doing what young kids do, riding bikes around the neighbourhood, exploring our Territory and being menaces to the community. Grant, he was the epitome of athletic potential and a source of great Pride for his parents. He was a very successful junior gymnast winning many awards and competitions and was a natural at tennis which he devoted a lot of time and energy into. He was that which I wanted to become myself, not necessarily a tennis star but successful, envied and admired by parents and peers.
Even at that young age, I realised it was fun and good to be around people who are just as curious as I was. People who were just as driven to satisfy curiosity.
I think that during my primary school years from ages 5 to 12 that I had it reasonably good. I didn’t suffer any psychologically negative events I had several good friends especially Grant. I had a well-rounded youth.
Fast forward to high school, things change, we go through physiological change, and we are quickly mentally developing as well. You meet new people gain new Insights and learn new things. Now Grant and I, we didn’t spend a lot of time together or as much as we used to. Your time is now being split between new hobbies like girls, sports, and other new personal interests. Also meeting new people, gaining friends based on these new things in your life. My new interests at High School included rugby, video games and being obsessed with the attractive girls at school. And my new social circle reflected that. Grant, he took on new hobbies like skateboarding, swimming, and drawing. And he gained friends that were centered around those new hobbies.
High school was a pretty turbulent time, and I hold a little bit of guilt that I did not pay much attention to the close friends I grew up with as much as I did before high school. I was barely aware of the activities and the goings on of Grant’s life during that time. The only thing that I knew is that he was hanging around people that I didn’t like and they didn’t like me. Not sure if it’s a clash of personal values or that we didn’t share the same hobbies and interests, but I guess that’s part of life. The last that I heard of Grant in high school was that he dropped out at the age of 16.
Between the ages of 16 and 20, we communicated very sporadically, a text message here and there every 3 or 4 months. We also lived in different cities and barely around the same place at the same times anymore. It was by chance that we sent each other a text message on the same night and we were both in the same area, so we decided to catch up for a drink. I had Brought my dad along as he was very fond of Grant growing up and was thankful that he was my friend. Most days I wish that we had never caught up that night.
Grant went from being a traditional Australian kid to being this whacked out stoner who smokes and gambles and has no resemblance to the athlete that he was growing up. The disappointment in my father’s eyes must have struck him to the core. Grant pulled me aside and said he was going to ask me for help, he needed some money, but instead, he said he was sorry. He said that he wished that we spent more time together in high school and then he left that was last time I heard from him.
I knew he didn’t have anything to apologise for as he had not done anything wrong, he didn’t cause any offence or any harm, so I was unsure what he meant by his apology.
What you can learn from this
The moral of the story that I went to highlight is that Grant had supreme potential. I don’t know what went into his decision process to pick those hobbies and to choose those friends, there is a whole lot of things to unpack to understand that. From values and beliefs formed by the uniqueness of his upbringing to the things activities and hobbies that actually piqued his interests. I just can’t say for certain how and why. But the people he eventually chose to surround himself with did not help him realise his potential or the potential that myself and others as outsiders, thought was capable of achieving. To me the story is quite sad but from an internal perspective from the viewpoint of Grant his life might be turning out exactly the way that he wanted it to.
But if you want to realise your own potential, you need to surround yourself with the people who would want that for you. Who would be happy and reinforce the reasons, your reasons specifically for doing what you are doing. You don’t need people who would resent you or be embittered by your presence for becoming what you want to become. So be judgemental when selecting the people who you want in your life. They will either help you or hinder you, your goals and your strive to be better whatever pursuit you choose.
Select people who will join you on that uphill path, who will share in the pain and the joys of the journey. Who will help encourage you, and be blunt and confront you on the qualities and habits that aren’t helpful toward your personal goals. For their honesty is the truth you need to hear, the pill you need to swallow. This accurate reflection that your friends give you, the observation you can’t see yourself is tremendously valuable. And it’s important to realise that they do it, not to belittle you, to demean you, but they do it to help you because they want the best for you.
Friendships, choose wisely.