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Surrounding Myself With Successful People is Not What I Need To Get Ahead

Why having financially successful friends isn’t the lifehack you might think it is

By C.R. HughesPublished 4 months ago 4 min read
Surrounding Myself With Successful People is Not What I Need To Get Ahead
Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash

One of the best representations of young adult life comes from season 2, episode 5 of the sitcom Friends. In this episode, Phoebe, Joey, and Rachel have to have the uncomfortable but necessary conversation with Ross, Monica, and Chandler about finances. The first group explains to their friends that they don’t make as much money as them so it’s difficult to hang out with them when the second group always wants to do things that are outside of what they can afford. And during this conversation, both groups bring up very good points. The more affluent group understands where their friends are coming from, but also state that, because they work hard for their money and enjoy doing more expensive activities sometimes (and can afford to do so), they aren’t going to feel bad for doing those things. And they really shouldn’t. But neither should their broke friends for not being able to do those things.

My whole adult life, I’ve felt like the Joey, Rachel, and Phoebe of my main friend group. My friends' tastes consist of traveling to other countries, going to fancy restaurants or lounges, and generally doing things that are beyond my current means. Although I love my friends and I would love to do those things from time to time, the logical part of my brain knows that I can’t afford to keep up with the Joneses, so oftentimes, I come up with excuses as to why I can’t hang out.

Not being able to afford the kind of lifestyle that my peers have has led to a lot of feelings of inadequacy. Especially feeling that I should be further along at the ripe old age of 25 than I currently am. This is why I’ve retreated into the arms of some different kind of friends. Friends who are within my current tax bracket.

By Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Now the saying goes that if you want to be financially successful, you have to surround yourself with financially successful people and while I appreciate the sentiment, I respectfully disagree.

The problem with having friends who are wealthier than I am is that they see the answers to my financial struggles to be much simpler than they are. And a lot of this has to do with the fact that for them, the answers are simple.

For example, I’ve been struggling recently to pay my rent on my already barely liveable apartment and the answer provided by one of my friends was to obtain multiple streams of income. Because that’s what she did. And now she’s a homeowner.

But this solution ignores the fact that the home she has was given to her as a wedding present by her in-laws. And having a husband means that she has someone also assisting her financially. Whereas, for me, as a single woman whose parents don’t even own a home for themselves, let alone own a home they could give to me, renting an apartment in my current zip code is pretty much the best option I have. And because I have to work more to make ends meet, taking on different projects on top of my full time job in order to earn extra income is an extremely difficult task.

And another friend can’t understand why I’m stressing about the A/C going out in my car with summer right around the corner because when he’s in town visiting his parents, he gets to choose between driving his mom’s Porsche or his dad’s Lexus.

By redcharlie | @redcharlie1 on Unsplash

Even my older sisters, who grew up in the same household as me, where our hairdresser mother and bus driver father stretched the pennies as far as they could, have now achieved the level of financial stability that makes one forget their previous struggles. Their answer to everything happens to be “just save your money.” This ignores the fact that during their young adulthood they were able to live in our parents' home for years rent free, which made saving a lot easier. Unlike me, who has to spend about 90% of my income on bills, gas for my car, or groceries.

Needless to say, surrounding myself with people who have “made it" really has not helped me in the slightest. The only thing it’s done is made me feel worse about my current socioeconomic status or caused me to spend money I didn’t have in order to not put a damper on anyone’s fun. But my friends and sisters are not bad people. They have every right to have bougie lifestyles because they can afford it. But until I can afford it too, I think I’ll stick to hanging with people whose bank accounts match mine.


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About the Creator

C.R. Hughes

I write things sometimes. Tips are always appreciated.

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  • Jenifer Nim3 months ago

    This is really well-written! And so true. Once when my old landlord came to collect rent from me and my roommates he said, "I don't understand why you don't buy a place of your own." Hmmm...

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