The intellect, the homebody, the ‘fun’ one, the mom, the type A, the jokester — the Rachel, the Monica, and the Phoebe, if you will. We all have different types of people that make up our friend groups, and some of us even have multiple friend groups in our personal inner circle.
Our besties, work wives, and even acquaintances are the ones who lift us up when we’re down, motivate us to keep going when we have a bad day at work, energize us to pursue our passions, and whose mere presence makes us feel at ease.
I have a deep-rooted appreciation for my friends; they’re my life, my heart and soul, and in my humble opinion, I’m pretty sure I’ve achieved #squadgoals 100 times over. I have friends from all walks of life and friends from around the world with a variety of interests and passions. My friends have shaped the course of my life and who I’ve become. They’ve raised glasses to my achievements, been a shoulder to cry on, and put me in my place when I’ve needed it most.
However, even the best of friendships aren’t easy all of the time, especially as we grow, evolve, and reinvent ourselves. Over the past eight years, post-college, and through my twenties, I’ve changed lot (thankfully!). As my interests and hobbies transitioned from keg stands and midnight pizza to Sancerre, yoga, and kale salads, I’ve had moments of feeling very alone; like no one really got this ‘new me.’ While a lot of this was a result of personal insecurity and fear of being an outsider, some of it was that we didn’t ‘get’ each other. It didn’t mean that we didn’t still love every ounce of our friendship, but as we embraced new careers, entered the world of dating, and made new friends in our new cities, we started developing and growing as people without the confines of a high school or a college bubble triggering our relationships to grow and evolve too.
I spent a lot of this time trying to be things that I felt I ‘should’ be — funnier, more fun, fashionable, more of a partier, and the list goes on. While it’s common to try on different hats as we get to know ourselves, it can be detrimental to our mental health and mindset to constantly try to be someone we’re not or feel bad about who we are. Over time, I learned to embrace my new hobbies and interests as an incredibly positive part of who I was. As I accepted this and moved forward more confidently, I realized that there were a lot of people who understood me: both new and old friends.
When it comes to health, the two things that typically come to our mind are diet and exercise. While both of these are essential to our wellbeing, there are also elements of our lives that have nothing to do with calories in or calories out that can affect our vitality in really profound ways. Relationships — more specifically, our friendships — can have a surprising effect on our mind and body.
Surrounding ourselves with people who really ‘get us’ and embrace our differences enriches and enhances our lives in really meaningful ways.
When we’re surrounded by the people who ‘get’ us, we feel like we have the freedom to be our authentic selves in a judgement-free zone. When we feel safe, we feel less stressed and more able to engage in candid, thought-provoking conversations. These types of conversations are intellectually stimulating, increasing our ability to feel creative, motivated, and passionate. On the other hand, when the people around us are constantly teasing our hobbies and interests or undermining our knowledge, we suppress our thoughts and feelings because they feel ‘wrong’ or ‘bad.’
So how do we get there? How do we surround ourselves with like-minded people who get us?
Diversify Your Friend Group
Each of your friends, who demonstrate understanding, compassion, and positive energy, even if they don’t share your exact passions and hobbies, plays an integral part of your life. So you don’t have to say sayonara to the ones who don’t, but diversifying and expanding your group will allow you the opportunity to engage in conversations about things that really light you up. This will help you feel more confident and supported. You’ll get that ‘wow, you’re just like me’ feeling, and, trust me, it’s a good one.
We all have people in our lives who we might call ‘energy suckers.’ They’re the ones who undermine us and make us feel insecure. It’s not easy, but just because you’ve been friends with someone for 20 years doesn’t mean they’ve earned a permanent spot in your life. While it might feel harsh, spend your time and energy with the people who show you the same amount of love you give.
Go Out Alone
I recently traveled to Bali alone, and, while I could have asked a friend to come with me, I made a difficult and personal decision to travel alone for five weeks. I knew that if I was with someone who ‘knew me,’ I wouldn’t be as open to new opportunity and discover the unknown. Through this experience, I discovered parts about myself I didn’t know existed and made new friends that will last a lifetime. Had I gone with a friend, I wouldn’t have opened up this side of myself.
Do What You Love
Going to Bali for a month isn’t available to everyone, but engaging in activities where like-minded people will be can make a big difference. Things like industry networking events, joining a local meet-up, or volunteering for an organization you feel passionate about puts you in a place where everyone shares something in common, making it easy to strike up conversation. When you’re doing what you love in the moment you’re in, the energy you bring to a room is extremely positive and attracts good people.