High school is the time when people grow and find themselves. In my experience by the time someone starts high school, they have developed their interests, hobbies, and sometimes, their friend groups. For many, going into high school can be a scary experience because it means entering a larger ocean and not really knowing where you fit in. This was my experience. When I started my first year of high school, I was one of the only people coming from my middle school. It was overwhelming and a bit unnerving, because high school is always depicted as a collection of cliques that you must rush to fit into.
As you move throughout the grades, most people find their “group”, the people they can hang out with every weekend or feel as though they can rely on. However, especially in this critical point of maturing, it becomes increasingly important to make sure you don’t “fall into the wrong crowd”. Often times, “the wrong crowd” is depicted as people who pressure you to do drugs or drink alcohol. The same people who influence you to put your focus on the wrong things. While in some cases this is true, it’s necessary to realize that “the wrong crowd” may not always appear to be so on the surface.
Sometimes, it can be easy to become comfortable with who you hang out with. We tend to never take the time to step back and look at the bigger picture. Just because your friends aren’t making you fail your classes, doesn’t mean they are necessarily the “right crowd”. The people who you may call your friends, could be harming you without you even realizing. The best way to figure out if your crowd is uplifting you, is to ask yourself a series of questions:
- Are my friends helping me become the person I want to be? Or are they taking me farther from that person?
- Have I changed my personality or habits (in big or small ways) since meeting my friends? Was this in a positive or negative way?
- Do I feel judged for liking/doing things I enjoy because my friends think it is lame, boring, dumb, etc.?
- Do I feel elevated or drained after hanging out with my friends? Am I putting on a “mask” when I am with them?
- Have I started to make fun of others more when I am with my friends to gain social acceptance?
- Do my friends make back-handed compliments or comments that make me feel bad about myself?
- Do I feel taken advantage of by my friends (time, money, school, etc.)?
- Have my friends intentionally excluded me from things without giving a valid reason?
- Have my friends ever pressured me to do or say something I did not want to do ?
If you answer yes to any or most of these questions, the truth is, that your “friends” probably aren’t the best for you. Of course everyone has their ups and downs when it comes to friendship, still, there is a fine line between a friendship being imperfect and a friendship being harmful. The moment you recognize that your friend/group has crossed that line, it is time to re-evaluate.
Branching out from a certain set of people can be terrifying. But remember, branching out and cutting off are two different things. Generally, there is already so much drama in high school, and by blatantly cutting people off all you’re doing is adding to that. If you said yes to only a few questions above, it could be that your friend(s) is not aware that they are hurting you. It may just take a heart to heart conversation for them to realize what they are doing. In my opinion, you should always keep in mind that there are other people out there to spend your time and energy on. If someone isn’t serving you anymore, it is perfectly okay to continue being friends with them, but also making the effort to meet new people. Ask that guy in your history class if he wants to do the project with you, meet that nice girl for coffee, try sitting with that group of people who always seem so welcoming at lunch, because if you don’t get out of your own bubble you never know what you are missing.
Friends are one of the biggest parts of school. They’re the reason you are actually excited to wake up at 6 AM and take the long bus ride, despite having to take three tests. I know that in high school especially, friends are your whole life. Just make sure that you are surrounding yourself with good people who will not only leave their hearts on their sleeves, but on yours. And magically, you will feel uplifted.
Featured image by @simonmaage on unsplash.com