By: Beatriz Craven, Guest Blogger
“Tell me who your friends are and I'll tell you who you are.”
This was a statement I heard from my parents growing up. I always thought that was such an unfair one. There was something about it that always rubbed me the wrong way. Like you had to be very particular, judgmental, and unnecessarily arrogant as you decided who made your list of inner circle of friends. When you have a criteria, someone clearly won't make the cut. The end result felt something less of a friends list and more of a "good enough list" and a "not good enough list" and that just made me feel unsettled and terrible in general just at the thought of it.
At the time, I struggled to understand my parents' intention but as I've grown older I've realized that the company you keep is actually extremely important. For better or for worse, the people you surround yourself with impact you and your sense of support. I realize now that my interpretation of what my parents meant was all wrong. It was never about focusing on which of my friends were "good enough" or "not good enough" to make the list, but focusing on which of my friends helped me be a better person and challenge me to be the healthiest version of myself.
How do you know when you're in the midst of someone worth holding onto? You know you have a true friend when they tell you what you need to hear, not just what you want to hear. You know you have a true friend when they might disagree with you but don't reject you. You know you have a true friend when you need them and you know they'll be there for you, no questions asked. It's clear you have a friend worth holding onto when you can share the good things in your life and they're happy for you and can celebrate you and not tear you down.
Identifying relationships like these is incredibly important because when we're surrounded in company that doesn't empower and challenge us, it can really hurt us. Be weary of surrounding yourself with people who judge you, belittle you, and hold you down. I really like the way Brene Brown puts it when she says, "if they wouldn't hold my hair back when I'm throwing up in the toilet, then they don't make the list." Find people on that list. These are the people that matter and you're going to need them in your life.
If you find that you haven't found these people, you may find there's more work you need to do on how to find them. Because they're out there. All too often, our inability to share our genuine thoughts and feelings is the culprit. If we want deep and meaningful relationships, we have to be vulnerable. We don't just "find friendships" we have to make them. Find people that you feel like you could grow to trust and really work on letting them into your world. Work on truly sharing and expressing yourself with them. You might surprise yourself with what comes from it.
So choose your people carefully. Be wise about the people you surround yourself with. They don't have to be perfect by any stretch. In fact let's just go ahead and pull the "perfect friend" out of the list of possibilities completely. Because as we all know "perfect" is not going to happen. There are people in our lives that we choose and people in our lives that we don't choose to be a part of it. When you have a choice, why not make a good one? Surrounding yourself in good people might make all the difference in your life.
What do you think of Beatriz's perspective? Can you name the people in your life who go all in for you? Are you finding yourself with people who do not honor and elevate your best self? What might you need to do to build your true tribe?
Beatriz finds incredible meaning in her work as a therapist in Houston, Texas. She completed her PhD in Counseling Psychology and works with college students at Sam Houston State University. She is an avid life enthusiast, loving wife, and movie fanatic. Check out her website and tumblr at beatrizcraven.com
image via patheos.com