There are two kinds of people in this world: The ones you choose to have in your life and the ones you don’t. I used to be very mixed-up about this, often wasting untold amounts of energy trying to impress or please someone who had absolutely no interest in me or my well-being.
Everyone has done this, but with me there was a difference that I am sure all of you can relate to: I grew up just plain different, an outsider who didn’t fit in. Later, I became an outsider with a diagnosis.
Naturally, I over-compensated by trying to fit in. I assumed that since I was the one who was different then I was the one who needed to adjust. There is a certain logic in this when you are younger and searching for your identity and moving your career forward. So it is you find yourself in the company of people diametrically opposed to you in every way. There is nothing wrong with that. This sort of thing is commendable, even.
The only thing wrong with this strategy is if you are stupid enough to invest your happiness in the outcome. Been there, done that.
Yesterday, I Googled someone I recalled from my first job out of law school. Two years younger than me. I discovered he died early last year. Seriously, I could be dead tomorrow. I need to be around people I genuinely enjoy.
Not with people it would be a good idea to network with. Not with people other people tell me I need to spend time with.
Funny thing, looking back, my happiest moments were when I was true to myself, often at grave risk to my standing at school or work or socially. As it turned out, the outcomes were always good. The times I was miserable were the times I struggled to fit in. No wonder I was so depressed so much of the time.
Things are a lot different now. Paradoxically, by not trying to fit in, I find myself fitting in with the kind of people I want to have in my life. If this were a Dos Equis commercial, I would be saying, “I don’t hang around people much, but when I do I prefer the right people.”
The kind of people who validate my uniqueness as a human being, who delight in what I have to offer, who take an interest in me. The kind of people who have something to offer me - their wisdom, their understanding, their companionship.
It’s not a dream. It’s really happening.
Let’s make this question a two-parter:
First part - Are there people you need to be cutting out of your life? What’s stopping you?
Second part - Are there people you need to be spending more time with? What’s stopping you?
Please feel free to write a book. Comments below ...
Published On: September 01, 2012
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