Fresh into my first job, I met this fellow copywriter. He had joined 3 months back and was still on zero talking terms with the rest of his colleagues. I’m not much of a social butterfly myself and was delighted to find someone worse off than me.
We got talking, and gradually he began to emerge from his shell. He wanted to be a sports journalist. He loved writing and was opinionated about everything – a typical JU alumnus. And in that office, he was hardly doing any writing. Neither was I, for that matter.
So I began motivating him. Asking him to drop his CV at the various newspaper offices. He didn’t want to be an intern, so he decided to work for a year, gather experience and then apply. Sounded fair enough.
8 months down the line, I left the job. We lost touch. It has been 4 years now. Last I heard, he was still working in that office, nowhere closer to being a journalist than he was 4 years back.
And I realized that the pack had conquered the wolf.
In that office, there were people who had been working there for almost a decade, in the same capacity as they had been on their first day. They complained about everything but weren’t interested in finding solutions. They talked about breaking free from that place but stayed on, year after year. The place reeked of stagnancy and pessimism.
I got out in time. My friend there, however, wasn’t as lucky.
That was the day I realized how powerful one’s company can be. The people we surround ourselves with end up influencing the person we become.
This is because humans are social beings. We do have our own mind, but we are still wired to act in groups. So with the petty ones, you play petty. With the rebellious ones, you cross lines. With the intellectuals, you brush up your wits. With the entrepreneurs, you risk that start-up.
When we conform ourselves to a group, we conform ourselves to that group’s standards and ideologies. We begin to think alike, talk alike and even look alike! After all, no one likes to be the odd one out.
What do you do when you find yourself with people who are mediocre-ing you down? You politely excuse yourself and look for the ones who are more up your alley.
This doesn’t mean you should completely cut those people off your life. After all, some of them could be childhood friends or family. Just reduce your contact time with them. And hang out with the ones who inspire you, whose ideologies are the same or better than yours, and who motivate you to be your best version. Socialising doesn’t always have to be mindless, you know? And it’s way more influential than you may think.
So, how would you know if you’ve found the right ones? You’ll feel free, almost giddy with joy when you’re with them. You’ll feel like your most authentic self. There won’t be that nagging feeling deep in your conscience that you’re wasting your time or potential. You’ll think more about solutions than problems, talk more about possibilities than people and will laugh heartily instead of smiling politely. The signs are pretty hard to miss – if you ask me.
In the process, you’ll lose some friends.
When you grow, you also outgrow certain people.
They no longer bring anything worthwhile to your life, and neither can you add anything good in theirs. Being with them feels more like a drag. In such circumstances, it is kinder to amicably part ways and move on with one’s life. There is no point in flogging a dead horse.
So, find yourself the right kind of people to chill with. There are no chains binding you to anyone.
If your instincts say you could do better, believe it.