When I was 25 and new to New York, all I wanted was two things:
- A job that paid well enough to cover my bills and save a little money – while also having predictable enough hours to spend my nights and weekends writing
- A big group of friends
Looking back, it seems almost crazy that I ranked having a large group of friends as highly as being able to get paid enough to stay in NYC. But after spending my entire life feeling like an outcast, I just wanted to feel like I belonged.
Unfortunately, chasing down such an arbitrary goal took me away from my larger need to find my sense of self and to get comfortable being exactly the way I am (outcast or not). It also meant that I valued quantity over quality – something that backfired years later when drama tore a rift in my friend group.
After all of that, I moved to San Francisco and started working in startups and experienced a major paradigm shift. I learned new things about creativity, getting things done, and breaking down the walls of perfectionism.
By default, I also ended up spending my time with like-minded individuals. My then-boyfriend (now husband) worked in a startup, I worked in a startup, and all of our friends were our co-workers and people we met through our startup network.
While I wouldn’t recommend spending your life in such a homogeneous group, doing so for a few years taught me something important:
You are who you hang out with.
Instead of spending Sunday brunch gossiping, my new friends spent Sunday brunch talking about how to make something meaningful. Instead of talking about who did this or who dated who or who wore what, we talked about how we could improve what we were working on or about learning new skills for fun.
I was hanging out with makers, and, in turn, I became a maker.You are who you hang out with. Who are you spending time with? Click To Tweet
You Are Who You Hang Out With
It’s just that simple.
I’m back in New York now and I didn’t make a new group of friends overnight. Rather, I took my time and connected with people who all share one thing in common: a desire to create.
From my friends in startups to my friends who are artists to my friends who simply want more out of life, no matter what they’re doing now, they all have the same value system. And through these friends, I get to meet their friends and now am surrounded by people who encourage and challenge me, and for whom I can do the same.
Before it sounds like I’m advocating that you only hang out with people who are exactly the same as you, I want to mention the breadth of industries my friends belong to. Some are baristas, some are artists, some are business owners, some work in startups. Some live in California, some in New York, and some in Colorado, Texas, Boston, and Canada. (Thank you internet for making the world so small!)
My friends aren’t all the same – not even close – but we share the same core value: to create. To do more with our time. To get the most out of this life that we can.
And now, finally, by recognizing what I value and spending time with people who encourage that, I’m able to embrace my true self, something I should have done years ago.
When You Surround Yourself with Greatness, You Too Can Achieve Greatness
Steve Wosniak and Steve Jobs
J.R.R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis
Elizabeth Gilbert and Anne Patchett
These are just a few examples of people who paired up and, through their relationships, were able to encourage each other and lend to each other’s greatness. Yes, these are extreme examples (some of which didn’t end well).
But they brought us Apple. They brought us two great literary minds. And we’re still to see what greatness can come of the fact that Gilbert and Patchett call each other friends.
When you surround yourself with greatness, you too can achieve greatness. When you find people who prefer to encourage one another instead of competing, then you can grow and learn from one another.
Remember: once we are adults (read: not in high school anymore), we’re the ones who distance ourselves from others, not the other way around.
Don’t distance yourself. Don’t make yourself an outcast. Start making friends that share your values. Start chasing down the life you always wanted.More often than not, you distance yourself from others - not the other way around. Click To Tweet