My best friend has been watching a show recently called, “60 Days In.”
It’s about 7 innocent people who volunteer to go to prison for 60 days undercover.
While incarcerated, these volunteers are treated just like prisoners. Nobody, other than the Producers, the Sheriff and Captain of the prison, know about the program and the volunteers. So, if a volunteer commits criminal acts while incarcerated in the program, they have to pay the consequences.
One of the young volunteers, Isaiah, ends up making friends with another young inmate who is a known trouble-maker. Isaiah eventually finds himself in a predicament where he is covering for his friend out of loyalty, who is stealing from other inmates and committing crimes.
Isaiah will have to suffer the consequences of his actions committed out of loyalty to his friend.
This happens all too often and in so many different settings. We forfeit aspects of our lives and even our dreams for the sake of keeping friends around. Somehow, we even portray this as the right way to live. Hollywood loves the story of the hopeful underdog who finally catches a break and then ditches either their friends, family or other close relationships and then by then end, they have chosen to give up everything they worked for in order to maintain those relationships. Because these relationships are what’s most “important.”
For some reason, it’s rare that life wants us to achieve our dreams and keep our friends too.
There are some fundamental and necessary approaches we can take to avoid or resolve this problem.
Surround yourself with like-minded people.
My friend, Drew, has this quote he likes to share, “You are who you will be five years from now. The only difference is the books you read and the people you meet.” I believe this statement to be true, at least, to the extent that we are willing to be changed. There are people who I have run into throughout life who have inspired me to take action and others with whom, I enjoyed being around but we did a whole lot of nothing at all. The latter, I kept around for the same reasons as Isaiah, camaraderie and loyalty. We all do this. It’s in our nature; the need for others and to be loyal to each other.
The thing is, if we aren’t surrounding ourselves with like-minded people, nobody is going to challenge us, or remind us what we are living for. In fact, they may do just the opposite, distract us from our purpose.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying you shouldn’t have fun every once and a while. I am just saying there’s more to life than getting high morning, noon and night while screaming at each other, like my neighbors who live behind me. (I still wonder how they pay their rent).
You may have heard the saying, “You can’t soar with the eagles if you hang with the turkeys.”
I have a friend who recently came to me for some advice. She has been in the works of putting a design company together. She is young, talented and filled with ambition. She shared with me how her best friend recently decided she also wants to be involved in this company and help with the administrative side of things. Initially, my friend was excited about it. She would be the creative and her friend could manage the administrative tasks. Not long into it, she discovered that her friend was tearing down her creative ideas and they weren’t working well together. My friend doesn’t have the heart to tell her best friend, that she wants to do this project on her own.
As she was telling me her story, I felt like I was re-living my early twenties with my best friend.
It didn’t end well.
I encouraged my friend to set some boundaries. It’s easy to want to do everything with your friends. There are some things, though, that we may be meant to do and others may not. It’s ok to do things on your own and have healthy collaboration. But when somebody else begins to dictate the direction of your dream, there needs to be boundaries.
Don’t put your life on hold for the comfort of others.
My friend, she really has 2 choices.
1. Put her dreams on hold to keep her friendship in a comfortable spot and avoid conflict.
2. Be honest with her friend, with the risk of hurting feelings, so that she can pursue her dreams. If her friend is truly her friend, while she may be hurt, she will still support her and stick around. If not, she may be better off.
As I shared with my friend and have said many times over and over again to my readers and to people I get to speak with in the flesh, you have one life.
One life to whole heartedly go after the things that are burning deep inside of you. One life to leave your stamp. One life to give us all you have to offer.
Surround yourself with others who want to do the same. Who pull the best out of you.
10 years from now, you don’t want to be in a place of regret that you didn’t do things differently.
So what about you? When you envision your current circle of friends, are they people who are pursuing their dreams and encouraging you to do the same? Would your friends describe you as somebody who is pursuing their dreams and supporting them in their pursuit? Is it time to find a new tribe?