How can you call yourself successful when the people who should be the closest to you are pushed the farthest away? What is material wealth or possessions without the affections of your children, spouse, and/or immediately family?
It may be wishful thinking to hope that every person put in your path will LOVE you with an unconditional love. Yet, if all of your friendships are short-lived and the longer people know you the less they like you… you may have a problem with sustaining relationships.
When I reflect on what makes my life worth living there are a handful of things that immediately come to mind. Without boring you with the list, I will throw out that we get the honor of shaping our image in the eyes of our peers, friends, co-workers, etc. What are we doing with this opportunity?
I remember high school. It was chaos. Learning was important but the social dynamics left just as powerful of an impression on me as pre-calculus and chemistry. Everyone had a unique circle of friends and pledged some level of loyalty to the group. Ironically, it was the groups/cliques that defined how people were perceived in this faulty environment. Thus, many freshmen sought out cliques to link to. Yes, there were a handful of individuals who had the courage to stand alone and be their own person. Trust me when I say this group was the minority.
Somehow in four years I went from the guy running in the hallways with a book bag overflowing with books (to make sure I didn’t get caught in hall sweep and get detention) to getting voting into elite status during my senior year. I’m not particularly proud of this transformation I am just aware of it.
Freshmen year I used to sit at lunch all the way in the back of the cafeteria with a handful of geniuses. I was shy and quiet. I liked these guys because we played Uno, discussed physics, reviewed homework and pondered what it would be like to be popular. Sophomore year I joined the j. v. football team. Junior year I was a starter on varsity. By the time I got to my senior year I was a letterman wearing, abbreviated scheduled, cocky conversationalist.
I occasionally saw the geniuses I used to sit with in passing. We were cordial, nothing more. At lunch, now I sat all the way in the front with a legion of other sports players, cheerleaders, and walking billboards for fashion labels. The conversation changed from school work, classes, teachers, and test results –to- girlfriends, boyfriends, new watches, new cars, and parties.
Had I arrived?
Quite the contrary. Why? This new crowd was not too much interested in my intellect or my personality. People turned on each other all the time. Best friends were mortal enemies and back best friends in the same week. Sharing juicy gossip about a joint friend was normal. Sadly, it was all a song and dance. Musical chairs.
In short, it turns out that changing cliques didn’t change the quality or the depth of my friendships for the better. The more I think about it the more I realize just how much life as an adult can resemble life as a high school student if we are not careful as to why we are bonding with certain people and groups.
Social Success Redefined
I said all of that to say, I don’t need a million pretend-friends who will smile in my face and then stab me in the back when the right opportunity arises. I don’t necessarily have to be popular either. Thankfully I’ve out grown this desire.
What about you? Would you define social success as a person who can walk into a room and command the attention of everyone with a flashy outfit and a famous name -or- is it the person you know you can pick up the phone and call when your world is falling apart because they’ll listen, be objective, and point you down a path that leads to your true self? That’s the kind of friend I want to be and want to have.
And just like that, A Spark Starts!