Throughout my college career, I’ve been a part of many student organizations that I never really felt at home in. I was a member of PAMSA, a pre-med student club, when I wanted to be a doctor just because I knew it would look good on my resume. I’ll even admit that I’m currently a part of certain organizations for that same reason. I don’t think that’s a bad thing because sometimes it’s just what you have to do. I think its analogous to working a job you don’t like for a short time because you know that it will get you to the career you want.
But, it became a problem when I found myself at the meetings surrounded by students that I shared nothing in common with. To fit in, I’d put on a persona. I’d find myself flaunting my achievements and pretending I was interested in listening to stories about how wasted someone got last weekend. Anyone that knows me well knows that I’m very humble regarding my achievements, and I definitely do not drink.
I guess it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that I always left these meetings feeling unauthentic. I didn’t feel like David. I never really understood why until recently…
I didn’t feel like myself because in reality, I wasn’t being myself. I was living a two-faced life.
I think we all face a similar struggle whether we realize it or not. Some of us are totally different people at work than we are around our friends. Some of us carry one persona with the lunch crowd before transforming into a totally different person at game-night. That’s all fine and dandy until that awkward moment comes when the two groups accidentally meet…who do you become then? You can’t be two people at once.
No matter how awkward the situation is at that moment, it’s not nearly as terrifying as what comes after…the unspoken thoughts both groups of friends have about you. Suddenly, they don’t know who their best friend is.
But if you had been yourself in the beginning, you wouldn’t be in that situation. You’d have friends that love you for who you are. You’d be authentically yourself.
Now I’m not saying you should be the same person in a business meeting as you are at a family BBQ, but you shouldn’t stray so far from the tree that you find yourself outside of it’s shadows. In my case, I shouldn’t change who I am, so I can fit in. I should just be myself and if they don’t like me, then that’s their loss because I’m freaking awesome! (That’s still humble, right?)
When you start being yourself and surrounding yourself with the kind of people you want to be, life becomes a lot more enjoyable. Just think about the weight that got lifted off your shoulders after you left that awkward first dinner with your partner’s parents. That sense of “ah.” That’s what we should be experiencing every day.
And if you need another reason to rethink your friend group, research shows that who we surround ourselves with influences our actions and whether or not we achieve our goals. So in the end, is pretending really worth all the hassle?
I think not.
After reading this, some of you may be a little on edge or questioning your friend groups. If that’s you, take a moment to reflect after you hang out with your friends. Do you like how you feel? Are you proud of how you acted with them? Ask yourself if that person is the person you want to be. If it’s not, then maybe it’s time to let those people go.
Knowing when to move on isn’t always easy, but I like to think of friends as seasons. Personally, I think there are certain people that are predestined to come into our lives for a short time. They are meant to teach us a quick lesson and move on just as quickly as the seasons change.
Similarly, I think there are some that are meant to stay a little longer than others, but eventually fade away like leaves on an autumn tree. You have great memories with them and probably are very close, but life eventually pulls you two in different directions.
And finally, there are some that stay for a lifetime just like the sun stays year round. These friends challenge you when you need to be challenged. They hold you when you need to be loved. They tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. They are authentically themselves, which helps you become the best version of yourself.
So I guess the moral of the story is two-fold: always be yourself and know that while some friends come and go, others will stay for a lifetime.
I hope this post resonated with you, and don’t forget to like, comment, and share! Have a great weekend 🙂