Be careful who you hang around.

“Be careful who you hang around.
Beliefs are sticky things.
Stick on your shoes and on your soul
Rearrange your dreams.”

Cam, Road to Happiness.

Merriam-Webster has six different definitions for the noun friend. Not one, not two, not even four. Six different ways to define the people we refer to as friends. That’s the thing about friendship, it’s multidimensional. It’s complex and at times messy. The older I get the more I see how much we underestimate the impact that these multidimensional relationships can have on us. I might not say it as eloquently as Cam does in the song Road to Happiness, but our friendships shape who we are. They help shape our dreams. They help shape our beliefs. They help shape our lives. They have such a huge impact on who we are, but do we put enough thought into choosing our friends?

When I graduated college and moved to a new town I found making new friends my age to be difficult. In college I was stuck on a daily basis in a classroom surrounded by likeminded people the same age as me. All I had to do was walk onto campus and I knew I’d run into someone I shared common interests with or had a very similar upbringing as. After college was a different story. Instead I spend 40+ hours a week at an office where many times I was the youngest person on my team. My experience was not an isolated one. I’ve heard many other people say they have felt the same way I did after graduation. It’s easy to view that as a downside to graduating, but what if we looked at it as a new opportunity for personal growth?

You might be asking yourself how socializing and making new friends is a personal growth opportunity and that’s okay. It took me a while to realize it, but starting over in a new town means we have the opportunity to pick who gets to make an impact on our lives and who we call a friend. “Be careful who you hang around.” We can choose to surround ourselves with people very similar to us like I personally did in college or we can choose to surround ourselves with people better than us. When we decided to go with the latter, that’s when we open ourselves up to grow.

Growth is not an easy thing for me. I’m a creature of habit and growth means changing things up and leaving my comfort zone. I could resist the friendship of people who embrace change, but if I did that I would become complacent and my life and career would become stagnant. I would have never discovered my passion for working in talent acquisition. I would have never applied for (and received) my most recent promotion. And more relevant to you, the reader, I definitely would have never started this blog. Because of this I actively attempt to surround myself with friends who push me out of that comfort zone and encourage me to dream bigger.

I chose to have friends who embrace change rather than run from it, but it doesn’t end there. Each friend I have is better than me in some aspect. More emotionally intelligent, more outgoing, more genuine, more health conscious, more assertive, more selfless, more organized. The list goes on and on. I could look at those friends with jealousy because they’re better than me, or worse with annoyance or disapproval because they’re different than me, but instead I welcome these differences because I recognize that mannerisms and “beliefs are sticky things.” They don’t just rearrange your dreams. They can change who you are as a person for good or for bad so “be careful who you hang around.”

Still trying to figure it out,

Madison

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