You don’t get to choose your friends

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Last week I heard a talk about the importance of choosing your friends wisely and selecting the people you always hang out with. One implication of doing so is you avoid toxicity and bad influence from toxic friends. Moreso, you get to adopt the good influences from inspiring friends. These are good points. However, I personally believe that we don’t really get to choose the people we hang out with. The kind of friends who we are with is not dictated by our deliberate choice, rather, it is dictated by our inner qualities: our goals, values and interests, our personality, and our psychological needs.

People became friends because they share the same goal, values and interests. For example, the people who I get befriended with are brothers and sisters in our prayer community. We spend our time with each other because of our common values and interests — faith and family. I also developed new friendships with other homeschooling parents because we share the same goal and lifestyle choice, that is, homeschooling. I didn’t deliberately choose these people. It’s like the universe has glued us together because of our shared values, goals, and interests.

On the other hand, if you value alcohol, clubbings, gamblings, what would you expect? Of course, you will gravitate toward these activities and meet people with the same inclinations.

Apart from these values and goals, people’s personality also play a role, that’s why there’s a phrase, “they hit it off together.” I’m sure you have experienced it before when you talked with someone new, and you were instantly comfortable with each other. You hit  it off together. So I wouldn’t be able to consistently hang out with all the people in the homeschooling community nor in our prayer community, except if it’s a weekly group meetings.

Lastly, we have psychological needs, that is, to be accepted and to feel important, among others. If you don’t get these emotional needs from your primary family, and the first people who will give these to you will become the people who will matter to you. This particular case requires self-awareness about what one is getting from toxic or bad-influenced friends. It also needs some outside exploration where there are also other groups of people who could give these needs, and at the same time will inspire them to live a good life.

I guess these are the reasons why they say people with the same feathers flock together. Friends share the same interests, goals, and values; their personalities are either compatible or complementary; and they receive acceptance and belongingness. So if you’re a parrot, you cannot just hang out with the eagles and soar with them, so to speak. You have to morph yourself into an eagle. Because if you have the need to change your current set of friends, you must first internally change your self.

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