I think the hardest thing about making changes in your life is changing how you see yourself. You have to see yourself as capable, as competent, as worthy of the time and discipline and sacrifice necessary to make any sort of changes, big or small. And when it comes to your life, even so-called small changes can feel seismic. You have to almost re-brand yourself as the person you wish to become; you truly have to believe you can make the changes in order to have the ability to generate the changes.
You have to change how you see yourself in order to see all that's possible. And when it comes to how we see ourselves, friends are pivotal. Good, inspiring, supportive friends can give you the (loving) kick in the ass that allows you to stop talking and start doing. Good friends can give you the courage to return to school, or take that job overseas, or demand a raise. Good friends will read your book, or watch your play, or brag about your talents. Good friends can make us believe that we are invincible. True story: I have a Vimeo channel for my professional videos. Earlier this year, I noticed I had a new follower, a friend from elementary school. I was surprised and I told her as much, saying, "I didn't even know you have a channel on Vimeo!" And she said, "I don't, but I know you do, and I wanted to support you." I'll never forget how good she made me feel.
Nor will I ever forget the disgust my toxic "friends" caused me to feel. Last year, for example, as my business started taking off, I finally ended a friendship of ten years standing with a certain woman. "Friendship" is rather a grandiose term for the relationship I had with her ever-worsening arrogance, cruelty and stupidity. Suffice it to say, she was friendlier when we were both broke and struggling. But as my business grew, so did her malicious, passive-aggressive behavior. The final straw was when I texted her that I was blogging on The Huffington Post, and she replied that while she herself never read HuffPost, she was sure that someone would be impressed by that. I still almost find that hilarious. Almost.
Was it a little depressing to end a relationship with someone whom I had known for a decade? Sure. I was a little bit lonely. But trying to spend time with her was much lonelier. Listening to her endless lies and delusions and jealousy was far lonelier. It was much lonelier to be friends with someone whom I knew couldn't stand it when good things happened to me. What was the point of that?
Not to mention, once I removed her negative presence from my life, I started meeting new people who were funny, smart, bright and interesting. I started creating friendships with women who inspired and motivated me. Once I made room in my life for good people, they started appearing. By the truckload. Seriously. It's crazy.
If you're contemplating making changes in your life, take some time to consider the influence of your friends, both good and bad. You want to be very chary of your associates, because you're going to need all of your energy and determination to take action and change your life. You simply can't waste yourself on people who leave you full of doubt, and anger and despair. You must surround yourself with people whose curiosity, and creativity and zest for life inspire you to do the things that scare you. You want friends who see the good in you, friends who say, "Hell yeah, you have to audition for that role, you're so talented, give it your best shot!" as opposed to friends who whine, "Oh, but if you don't get it, you'll feel like a loser, better not to even try."
If you're on the verge of making changes and your "friends," are making you doubt yourself, or making you feel guilty for wanting more... think about that. Are your "friends" making it clear that they're not thrilled that you don't want to get drunk with them every night? Are your "friends" making fun, in public, of your desire to better yourself? Do your friends make you feel lonely? Are your friends simply not so friendly? People who are generally scared of life can feel very threatened when you resolve to stop feeding your fears. They want to keep you scared and isolated with them. Their misery craves your company.
If you're trying to make changes in your life, be patient. And have empathy for yourself: surround yourself with people who genuinely like you and want you to be happy. Pair up with people who are honest and nurturing with themselves, since that's a good indicator that they'll treat you the same way. People who hate themselves, after all, are never very friendly. Instead, pair up with people who are a few steps ahead of you so that their commitment, and passion and determination demonstrate to you what's possible. And what if there's no one currently like that in your life? I've been there, Kid, and it's no fun. I know how you feel. But that's even more reason to be your own inspiration, to be your own best friend. Believe you're worth your best, and take the time to create a life filled with people who share that belief.