You know you’ve heard it from the adults in your life, let’s just count an adult anyone your parents age or older.
The friends you have, the people you spend your time with, make you who you are.
They help mold your ideals, your thoughts, your morals. I have had my own experiences as well as witnessed people I grew up with influenced by people around them. Now, if you are reading this and saying to yourself “I’m not influenced by any one,” good for you! I ask you to just keep reading anyway, or you can just stop here, it’s up to you I won’t be offended.
When we are kids your family is your influential group. My parents influenced me to enjoy classical music, especially Andrea Bocelli. My mother influenced me to enjoy cooking. My dad has had me on a computer since I can remember, so his influence has helped me to be fluent on a computer much earlier on than most. My sister influenced my ideals of friendship and was my first friend. I won’t say there weren’t times I wish I didn’t have a sister but more often than not I remember pointing out that she was my sister and being proud. I wasn’t someone who disliked having a sister and was never ashamed to say she was mine.
As I got older my friends also became influences on my life. They influenced me to swear, they influenced me to lie to my parents, which was never successful by the way. They influenced me to judge people, most of all judge myself.
I judged myself every morning, before I would let them judge me. I beat myself up before they could. I can pinpoint when I started to really have self-image issues in fifth grade. I had cut my hair incredibly short, so I got called “mushroom head,” at that age you think no big deal they’re just kids. Those words though have lasted to this day, since then I have cut my hair just as short twice, until most recently. While writing this over the last year, I cut my hair down to a pixie cut. I had been debating it for a year and then decided Memorial Day weekend that I’d call my hairdresser and if she had an appointment that day I’d do it and guess what…SHE DID! It was a HUGE change and with curly hair I looked entirely different from those other girls who had pixie cuts. It has been a test of my self confidence and has been a whole new learning curve the whole time. It took me almost twenty years to feel comfortable again in my own skin and with my own identity to cut all of my hair off.
Learning to love myself again “without” the hair that has defined me for so long has been thrilling and scary.
Throughout my life and especially during this phase of short hair, my self-confidence has wavered from okay to down right gross, always comparing myself to other girls. At one point, when I was younger I felt so gross, so low, so poorly about myself that I thought cutting myself would cause relief. It did not, but it happened because of media influences as well as the people I had around me. I saw others around me handling their anger, sadness, and depression in that way and thought, “Why not try it?”. After that I was incredibly ashamed and swore I would never do it again. I realized that self harm, physical self harm, did nothing except hurt and gave me a physical reminder of the low point in my life. Why would I want a reminder of that? Why would I want a reminder of a really low point instead of having a reminder of something happy? Now don’t get me wrong, there are many I know who have these scars and look at them as growing pains, they went thru something and made it out the other side.
**In no way am I stating that self harm is okay or acceptable to deal with things that are going on in your life.**
I am merely acknowledging that it happens to many whether it be cutting, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, eating disorders and any other type of harm one can cause to oneself. I recognize it occurs as something that we feel we can “control” but many times I have seen where it ends up controlling someone.
As I’ve gotten older, I have begun to recognize and see when people influence my thoughts. In college, a few people I spent time with, were incredibly judgmental of others and I began judging people again. I felt gross when I did it, I knew it wasn’t right and I knew it wasn’t nice. I didn’t like how I felt when I did it because again, I then began to judge myself. I won’t lie, it’s sadly human nature to judge however, I now choose to fill my life with people who choose to be understanding and acknowledge no human being is perfect. I work very hard to give people the benefit of the doubt and to not judge them on how they look, how they dress, how they talk, or how they act.
People around us influence our thoughts, actions, and emotions in many different ways. If you continue to fill your tribe, support system, group, friends etc. with people who are constantly in fear, doubt, shame, sadness, nervousness, and negativity most often that is what you begin to feel like. If you surround yourself with people who admit their faults, honest, kind, happy, positive, accepting; you find yourself reflecting those things back and living your life a bit differently
As Thumper said “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”.
Try it, give yourself a month, look at your friends and see who has a good outlook on life versus the one’s who are a bit more negative. Try spending a week solely with the friends who have a good outlook, then spend a week with the friends who are a bit more down. How do you feel? What are your thoughts like? Are you happier with one over the other? If you can’t tell after a month give it a little longer.
You do not HAVE to do this, it’s food for thought. It is to get you to think, if you can change how you think about yourself by who you spend time around shouldn’t you try it? If you’ve had your own experiences like this share them with me!