I was talking with a friend who recently graduated from high school. She was thinking back to her “friendships” of the last four years and reflected on how much of herself she gave up all in an effort to fit in with others. She acknowledged how oftentimes she would sacrifice her self-respect and wellbeing by allowing others to mistreat her. Her lack of boundaries allowed others to determine not only how she spent her time, but also determine the value of her feelings. She gave away all of her power. Despite always having people to hang out with, surrounding herself with people who didn’t really care about her often left her feeling empty and alone. In hindsight, she felt her high school experience could have been more fulfilling if she went with a crowd that valued and respected her.
Sometimes we focus our energy on the wrong areas in an effort to please others or fit in, but what’s the cost? Hearing my friend’s experience made me wonder how many people diminish themselves to “fit in.” I don’t think people fully grasp the negative impact of not being able to be your authentic self with those you consider close to you. One’s sense of vitality is diminished when constantly trying to appeal to the group, and self-esteem issues begin to flourish. Staying in alignment with your true self is a fundamental part of feeling at peace and leading a purposeful life. If the people you surround yourself with don’t appreciate who you are, it’s time to find new people.
Do you feel valued and respected by the people you consider friends?