“So, are you sad about D leaving?”
I almost dropped the jar of salsa I was holding and turned to stare at Keena. “Dude. I can’t even tell you.”
Keena kept chopping peppers as I started layering a lasagna of tortillas and shredded cheese. “So what is it?” she asked. “Are you afraid the group will change? Are you just going to miss him?”
I credit my friend Derrick and Herald for forming my core group of friends in DC. I met Keena through them. I met Paula through them. I met Tim, Willie, and Mike through them.
The first day I met Derrick and Herald, we hung out for thirteen hours straight. We met at brunch, then they drug me and my friend Rachel to a backyard BBQ, a going-away party, and out to the bars that night—all in one day. It was the first day in a five-year friendship built on not taking life too seriously.
“I’m going to miss Derrick because I like the person I am around him. I mean, come on—look at you, me, and Paula!! We are the three most high-strung, opinionated women I know and it blows my mind we’ve stayed friends this long. The guys balance us out. When I’m around D and the boys, I laugh more than I ever do. They keep me calm. They remind me life is short.”
Keena smothered the enormous plate of nachos with peppers and onions, and we shoved it in the oven. “Girl,” she said, “I totally get that.”
It’s true what they say: You are the sum of the people closest to you.
Come March, my friends Derrick and Mike leave DC. In the same week. I’m pretty sure I’m transitioning from denial to the anger stage of the grieving process.
Some women worry they won’t be married by thirty, this twenty-seven-year-old’s biggest fear is my friends leaving the city. I fell in love with DC for its history, architecture, and climate (DC summers aren’t bad if you’re used to Iowa winters), but I moved back for my friends.
I want you to stop and think really, really hard about the five people closest to you. Are you thinking of them? Great. Now think about the person you are when you’re around those five people.
Why would you surround yourself with people who make you a lesser version of you?
I’ve met a lot of people in the past ten years. Some made me angry. Others made me jealous. Others convinced me I was throwing my life away.
I don’t like the Kara who surrounded herself with these people.
I used to judge people by their words and their actions. Now I evaluate people by the person I am in their presence. I have been in relationships where I would literally die on my sword over the most meaningless argument. I’ve worked for people who made me bitter about my job. I’ve been friends with, lived with, and worked with people who made me a nasty person—someone who talked about people behind their backs, existed in anger, and picked fights. Who would want to be around someone like that? Not me.
Transform yourself into someone you would love to hang out with. Start by surrounding yourself with people who make you, a better YOU.
Let me explain something to you. YOU are the only person who has to put up with YOU, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Meaning, you better make damn sure to build a self you would want to hang out with. And it starts with surrounding yourself with people who bring the best out of you.
If you’re dating someone who makes you resent your very existence, why are you with them? If you’re working for someone who makes you hate getting out of bed in the morning, why are you working for them? Stop going to lunch with girls who make you gossip. Stop collaborating with coworkers who make you hate your job. For crying out loud, stop going to the gym with people who make you hate your own body. Don’t let someone else transform you into someone you don’t want to be.
I speak very highly of my friends, write dozens of blog posts about them, and introduce my family to them because they bring the best out of me. For someone who is a go-go-go, always anxious, I-must-do-all-things-at-all-times person, my friends remind me to slow down and enjoy the ride. Find the people who make you a better version of yourself, and hold on to them.