Caroline had an interview early in the morning but her friends convinced her to go to happy hour until late the night before. She made it to the interview on time but had a massive headache and was off her A game. James has tried to quit smoking time and time again but every time he hangs out with his college buddies, he starts back up again. It’s the classic case of peer pressure and FOMO (free of missing out). Peer pressure is not all bad though; Cassie wasn’t sure about college but all her friends were having SAT study parties, so avoiding FOMO, she decided to take the test too. She ended up getting a pretty good score and decided to apply to a few schools after all.
We hate to admit it because none of us want to feel gullible and spineless, but our friends and all the people around us influence our decisions everyday. If it wasn’t for my one good friend, I might have never left my ex-boyfriend, despite being unhappy. If it wasn’t for my college friends, I might have never studied so hard and gotten straight As. Then there were other people in my life who would somehow convince me to make questionable choices with little to no effort.
It’s not really a mystery, it’s human nature; we all want to feel a part of something and we all want to feel accepted by our peers. It’s literally how stereotypes are born. So really, the question is not whether our friends will influence us, but rather, how will our friends influence us? Which leads me to the thesis of this post: we need to ditch our loser friends.
You are an influencer…
If the logic is that your friends influence you than you too have the power to influence your friends. Say you were to change your ways (assumingely for the better), your friends might catch on. Those who don’t catch on might disengage but that’s okay because those friends weren’t ready for change and eventually they will be replaced by friends that are attracted to your changes.
Here’s another way of thinking about it; all of us as individuals give off a certain energy/vibe/attitude/whatever you want to call it. It’s the way we interact with people— whether we smile, laugh, pout, or grimace at those around us. At some point, other people pick up on that energy and it either resonates with them or it doesn’t. If it does, they engage, if it doesn’t, they retreat. So in the end, you attract like-minded people, people with the same mindset, and attitude towards life.
Still with me? Okay, so if you want to be successful in life, first you need to define success. What does being successful mean to you and do you feel you are on that path? What I’ve come to realize is that if you are asking yourself that question, you probably do not feel successful and need to change paths. That’s where the change comes into play. Now you look around at your sphere of influence, otherwise known as your friends, and ask yourself, are they successful? The answer to this crucial question will determine whether you need to pivot your attention away from the people you surround yourself with and towards more positive influences. Again, this doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to lose all your friends, because remember, you influence your friends as much as your friends influence you.
The Key is…
to surround ourselves with people we admire. People who inspire us to be the best versions of ourselves and to some extend become our mentors. Maybe this starts with people we will never meet. For example, I admire Dave Chapelle. I admire his authenticity, his “I don’t give a damn” attitude, his willingness to push the envelope and make people uncomfortable, and his epic comeback after years of being missing in action. All of that. I don’t know him personally (and I will likely never meet him) but he is in my sphere of influence and when I meet someone who reminds me of him, I want to befriend that person.
The Bottom Line
Ditching our friends in order to be successful sounds pretty harsh. But the fact is that we are a reflection of who we surround ourselves with. Once we start fostering positive relationships and separating ourselves from the less advantageous kind, we will see growth in ourselves and we might even see growth in those people that we disengaged from. It’s funny how that works, sometimes we are the negative influences as much as our friends are. Obviously we aren’t going to wake up one day and delete all our friends’ numbers, but maybe we put ourselves out there and open ourselves up to the possibilities. And keep in mind, we attract like-minded people, so if success is truly what we seek, it starts with the energy we put out into the world.