You have probably heard from many people in your circle—mom, dad, teachers and peers—you are judged by the people you hang around. I heard it from my parents, and now, I repeat the same thing to my kids. While this might seem completely unfair and a bit “judgy,” this is actually more of a thing than you may realize. And, it’s not a new thing. Let me explain.
Well known motivational speaker Jim Rohn is credited with saying it a bit more specifically, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Let’s talk about what that means, and also what it doesn’t mean.
What it doesn’t mean:
- Just because you hang out with a certain group of people does not mean you can’t think for yourself.
- It doesn’t mean you don’t have your own identity.
- It doesn’t mean that your life will mirror their life.
Not so bad then, right? The answer depends on who you’re hanging out with.
What it does mean:
You may be hanging out with perfectly cool people who get good grades, and don’t throw parties and trash their parents’ house when they’re gone. Good for you. Way to make good choices.
The decisions we make when we are in our tweens or teens do have an impact on our future, as distant as that may seem. What this notion does mean is that you have the likelihood to aspire to the same level of performance, and take on the attitudes and belief systems of those with whom you hang out the most. For introverts such as myself, that may mean your parents and family. Get out a little, would ya? There’s a separate blog about conversation starters just for you (insert winky face here).
It does also mean that, depending on who you keep company with, you may have access to more or less opportunities at school. For example, if you hang with less-than-desirable peers, your teachers will likely view you as less trustworthy, less able to make reasonable decisions, and perhaps even less driven or serious about your education. On the other side of that, if you hang around peers who are successful students—who get good grades, are respectful toward authority, and follow the social rules within a school structure, you may likely catch more breaks, because you may be viewed as a trustworthy and “good” student. Just like in adulthood, how people view you, whether they are right or wrong, and whether you like it or not, does influence how people treat you.
This whole judging thing may not seem like a big deal, but the stakes get higher, more dangerous, and more costly as you get older, if you choose the wrong crowd. My biggest question right now is this: Why would you want to hang out with people who get in to trouble, get bad grades, skip school, party, or sleep around? What does that say about you? What good does that bring in to your world?
I get it, you will not always be in middle school or high school. Why not just live it up and have fun, right? Might want to rethink that one. The decisions you make in this short season of your life can have a very positive (or negative) impact on how you propel yourself in to YOUR future.
Four Things to consider:
This is the point where the mom in me comes out. But, bear with me. It’s because I have lived through this myself, and want to share my experience, and the experience of seeing my teens go through it too.
1.) How do you view yourself?
Regardless of what people may say to your face, or behind your back, how do you see you? Who are you right now, today? Who do you want to be a year from now? Five years from now? Are you keeping company with people who share similar values, opinions, and beliefs? Do they bring out the best in you? In being around them, do you grow and learn more about yourself?
2.) How do you want to be viewed?
Is your behavior, your tribe, in alignment with who you are at the core of your being? If you have to sacrifice any part of you—your beliefs, values, opinions, reputation, to be part of the tribe… find a new tribe. Be true to the person you are, and the person you want to become. Be true to the life you want to lead. No one has greater control of your future than you. And, chances are, aside from your parents, no one cares about it more than you.
3.) What do you like about your tribe?
Please spare the superficial details. I don’t want to hear that they are the prettiest, most athletic, or most popular. Trust me when I say that goes bye-bye with graduation. What I mean is, what is it that draws you to this group? Do they make you feel included? Protected? Respected? Are they fun and positive? Whether it’s now or in your 30s, it’s important to really think about why you maintain the relationships you do. If they aren’t healthy, bring drama, or don’t make you feel good about yourself, they don’t belong in your life. Your tribe should be a source of acceptance, support, encouragement, and love. No drama or two-faced behavior. That is toxic, and will bring nothing but bad ju-ju in to your world. Drop it like it's hot.
4.) Done a gut check lately?
Have you ever hung around people that make you feel like crap. Literally, they suck the life out of you. Either they carry negative energy, or behave in a way that goes against your grain (who you are at the core of you). When you're with them, or maybe after you leave them, you may feel tired, drained, or your gut may feel queasy, just by simply hanging out with them. This is your body telling your mind to smarten up. Our bodies are amazing, and have a way of letting us know when something is out of whack. Making you feel like crap is your body's way of trying to get our attention, “hey dummy, get out of this situation!” PAY ATTENTION. If you’re on the fence about ending a friendship or a relationship, be conscious of what your body is telling you. Often times, you know the answer long before you take action.
If you want more, go find more.
If you are the kindest, smartest, most organized, most reliable, most trustworthy person in your tribe, it’s time to find a new tribe. Remember the quote from from Jim Rohn? You will only aspire to operate at the level of the five peeps you’re hanging around. If you want more out of your life—to become a better student, a better person, a healthier person, you will ONLY do so by finding people who operate at that level. This is your life, not the life of your friends. Claim it now. Don’t wait to get the most out of your life when you’re in your twenties. You are in your life right now. What are you waiting for? If you seek to find a tribe who is more of who you want to become, start building that tribe. You may have to think outside the box, and sometimes outside your comfort zone. These people may come in the form of people in your church, groups you join online, people you connect with outside of your community, even mentors where you work or volunteer. In an NFL draft pick, recruiters don’t get all the good players from one place. They look everywhere to build their dream team.
Trust the process.
Know this. When you create change in your life, you might ruffle a few feathers. If you are a person who decides you need to build a better tribe, some people might get mad when you leave them behind. Heck, they might even talk crap about you. You must know in your gut, in your mind, and in your heart, that you are creating something better for your life, and their opinions of you don't matter. I know it hurts. But remember, those who truly love and care about you will only want the best for you, even if that means it doesn't include them. Those who care will be your biggest cheerleaders in life. Be patient and trust the process. Trust that the universe is working in your favor, and as you create this positive momentum for change, it will not take long for that momentum to snowball. Life is a journey. I promise you that you will learn and grow, be happy and sad, and sometimes even feel alone. But, I also promise you that becoming who you want to be, and creating the life you want to live, are totally worth all of it.