You become the five people you spend the most time with.
It’s a common saying. And although perhaps not demonstratively true, it certainly has veracity. It’s one of those phrases I encountered so often, that it began to lose it’s meaning. And then one day, about six months after my ex left, I found myself delivering that saying to a student who was making some poor social choices. As I was counseling her about her choices, I began to simultaneously reflect on my own.
I was doing great with the actual people that I was surrounding myself with – people with quality character from a wide range of age groups and backgrounds. I felt good about the friendships I had built and the new people that I was attracting into my life. As my student starting talking through her connections, I was feeling at peace with mine, as they were all people I was happy to emulate.
And then she mentioned a person – a former friend – and explained that although they no longer saw each other, that other girl was still a major (and negative) influence on my student’s life through the muddied channels of middle school drama and the burgeoning world of social media.
I stopped short. This thirteen-year-old girl, that I thought I was teaching, just taught me something. Because even though I was confident with the physical people in my life, I was spending substantial mental time with the shadow of my ex. In fact, if I thought about the energy invested and the influence received, he was definitely in the top five. If not even number one.
And I certainly didn’t want to become like him.