Change Your Friends, Change Your Life

Change your friends

“I expected more from you Trudy Murphy” – Mrs. Matthews

Mrs. Matthews was my favorite school teacher. She was a short, buxom woman with a really kind disposition and smiley brown eyes. I loved being in her class and tried so hard to do well on my assignments for her. But during the year Mrs Matthews was my teacher, my best friend moved away and I started hanging out with a whole new crowd of friends.

Close by to our school was a large vacant plot of land with a creek running through it. Local neighborhood kids had built dirt bike tracks through it and a makeshift flying fox swing across the river. During lunchtime, my new friends and I would take off to “The Creek”, as we called it, to hang out. 

Of course, leaving school grounds during school hours was forbidden so it was exciting to sneak away. But one day, we returned late, after the class bell had rang, and as we stood deciding if we should go in or skip class altogether, the Principal drove by and caught us.

You can imagine the hell storm that followed with our parents being contacted and detention assignments for what, at the time, felt like an eternity. But the worst part, and the moment that still lives inside me today, was the look of disappointment on Mrs. Matthew’s face when she saw me and her words “I expected more from you Trudy Murphy”. During her meeting with my parents, Mrs Matthews warned them that I had fallen in with “a bad crowd” and she was worried that they would hold me back.

As a teenager, I really didn’t know what to do with this information. When you’re in school it’s difficult to change your friends and I had felt lucky that they had accepted and included me in their group. But as an adult, I realize that if you want to change your life, sometimes you have to change your friends.

If you take a mental poll of your friends today, it’s likely that you are the exact average of them in terms of income, interests, and ambition, because we attract and are attracted to people who are like us. Therefore, you already meet the standards and expectations of the people in your circle.

So how do you change your friends? You could move cities and start fresh. There’s definitely a sense of freedom and reinvention to that strategy, but it can also be a very lonely path. The alternative is to start engaging in new activities and interests that will bring you into close proximity with the people you would like to emulate.

No matter how you go about making new friends, it will take time, guts, and an openness to meeting new people. But trust me, it’s worth it if you want to make your dreams a reality. You just need to decide, do you want to continue to be a teenager that follows others or an adult that walks tall to the beat of their own drum?

Tell me in the comments below how your friends have impacted your life. I’d love to hear from you.

35 thoughts on “Change Your Friends, Change Your Life”

  1. You’re right that sometimes our circles interfere with our life improvement. I know such cases when normal guys just wasted their life because of their friends.

    But, it’s really hard to change friends, better use the situation like graduating from the university or school, moving to other place, etc. In other cases better spend less time with them.

    Thanks for sharing this post! Interesting topic.

  2. While reading your post, all i thought was about myself. And your absolutely right, once i looked back and thought about the choices I’ve made and the friends that are dear to me in my circle, you opened another door for me which made me realize that were all the same in terms of income, interest and such. I’ve always been a big dreamer, live for what I want but for the past couple of years I’ve seen that vanish from my life. Every time I use to bring up a business idea or anything along those matters, they would just say….”here we go again with your ideas” but now after reading this post I realize that if i was with the right circle which also lived to make their dreams and ideas come true I may not have been in the place I am today. I have followed instead of leading my own life.

    Thank you

    1. Hi Kiran, thank you for commenting. I have a personal motto that you may like … “Action Creates Inspiration”. Over the years I’ve found that taking action towards my dreams creates a natural momentum that inspires me to keep going. When we act, opportunities and people open and close before us, causing everything along our path to change. The more rapidly and boldly we act, the more rapidly our path changes. I would love to know if your friends can be inspired by you taking some bold steps towards your dreams or if they will continue to close down your ideas. A social experiment to try :) I hope this helps, Trudy

  3. That’s very true. I’m a returning student, and one thing my teachers have stressed to their classes is that one of the deciding factors in your success is your circle of friends. You are the cumulation of the 5 people nearest to you. Instead of changing friends, just change those five people. It is unnecessarily hurtful to drop people from your life simply because they aren’t successful enough, so instead of replacing my company, I have just added more. Now my 5 people include an 80 year old Pastor/Doctor/Therapist and my boss (who is 60) – they give me a solid example on how to age with grace and beauty.

  4. My friends have impacted my life by improving my perspectives of myself, those around me, the world, and life in general. It’s true, we attract friends who are much like us. I used to have friends who were not a good influence. Now, I have friends who contribute to my growth as a person and success in life. I am equally there for them as they are for me. I didn’t always know that the people we choose to include in our life could affect us so much. Especially since I assumed that no matter what kind of people came in and out of my life, I would remain steadfast. That wasn’t the case, so I decided to lose the bad friends and make room for better ones. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

  5. Thanks for the post. Great storytelling and great message. My friends most of my adult life have been from my church-home. We don’t have the same income, homes, etc. but we have the same “mind”… We are probably the highest income earners of people we hang out with but it hasn’t stopped us from growing in ambition… or in income.
    I do understand where you’re coming from and once believed this to be true. 6 years ago we bought a huge home in a neighborhood of like-ambition/income people, & worked to cultivate friendships there. And found they were not “us”. In fact, most were not who we wanted to aspire to be like… in any way. Today, we live in a more modest home (1/4 the value of the big one) and we are much happier. We like our neighbors again too… LIke-MINDED may be more important than like-ambition or like-income…

  6. Very thoughtful piece Trudy. One thought though, those friends that you were hanging out with at the Creek were encouraging you to explore boundaries, and to be honest the creek sounds like a much more stimulating environment that the classroom! It was the inevitable place for a budding entrepreneur to end up! So don’t be too hard on yourself :)

  7. Great topic. I really like the idea of adding more to your close circle rather than just dropping people – that is really difficult to do and perhaps unnecessary. The circles can ebb and flow over time. Some people will remain close, others will drift farther away. Remembering that idea of “like-minded” that is discussed above is a great way to look at it. My husband and I have talked about that often – finding people who share our worldview.

    1. “Circles ebb and flow over time.” That’s a great way to put it. We just need to make sure we have a broad enough circle so we can enjoy riding any tide that comes our way.

  8. What a timely article.. I have been struggling with how to change the types of friends I was drawn to and visa versa. It does take time.
    When I realised that many of my friends and I all shared one thing in common, the fear of being vulnerable in allowing people to get too close through past hurts.. I set about changing myself… What followed was that I no longer held the same values of many of these friends.. I wanted more from our relationships. I realised then I needed different types of people on my life. So the challenge started.

    1. Thank you for sharing Katherine. Being open to meeting new people can be a challenge in itself. But realizing you need to change a value that you’re holding so dear as a form of protection and that you need to meet new people, that is HUGE! Congrats on your self-realization. Wishing you well on the journey ahead.

  9. Sometimes in life, events bring the true nature of your friends to the surface. Some friends will rise to the situation, and others will fail to notice. The ones who fail to notice that a serious event is taking place were never real friends anyway. When I keep my eyes open, these events bring me even closer to my true friends and make it easy for me to move on from the others.

    1. That’s definitely true. Just remember, sometimes we need to tell people they’re important to us and that we’d like them to show up. In varying degrees, we all underestimate how important we are to those around us. Make sure you give them a true opportunity to rise, not a test, before you walk away.

  10. I moved across the country to a place that allowed me to pursue my active and outdoor interests. Originally it was to a ski town, but finding the crowd to party hearty, I moved to a nearby city. I also joined a new sports team and which gave me new friends to hang out with 4/7 nights a week that were focused on healthy goals.

  11. This is so true. I had to end a friendship recently because he wasn’t success minded if that makes sense. Its so hard, but so true. As I made positive changes in my life he pretty much avoided me. when times were bad he was there to rant with me. I could see that this wasn’t going to help me grow and I am glad I made that decision.

  12. I think if we’re focused on doing our best in life we will automatically gravitate toward similar people. But you’re right this can take guts and time as we grow and develop.

  13. Glad to read such a good article. I once read that actually your current salary/profits are the average of 5 closest friends of you. “Show me your closest friend and I will tell you who you are” proverb says. Nothing to add more. Thank you

  14. In every conversation between two people there are six faces, 3 for each person.

    How you feel about yourself, how you feel about the other person and how you feel the other person feels about you.

    This is why we behave differently around different people, our spouse, parents, children, siblings, other family members, work collegues, close friends, not so close friends. These three faces affect every conversation we have.

    we adapt our behviour to suit the people we are with at the time so it makes sense that if we choose to be with people who are upbeat and positive, we will become upbeat and positive around them

  15. Tell me who are you friends , i tell you who you are

    the medium of 5 of your friends income is your income

    if you are the smartest person in a room then you are in the wrong one

    a man should choose friends carefully

  16. I lost my friends when I decided to pursue my dreams and be all of me. One said ” Oh, no, you are not going to be one of those ‘business-people are you?’ when I told him I got accepted on a management course. In my entire life I have felt I had to hide parts of myself in order to be accepted and included. One group of friends didn’t like my creative side, one didn’t like my playfulness, one didn’t like my taste in music, one didn’t like that I liked to dance, one didn’t like that I was deep and thoughtful and used difficult words. In the end I had enough. I always felt that I had to put the breaks on when I was around other people. Sure it was difficult and hurtful to be on my own, but it sure does hurt when you have to tip toe around those who you love in order to be included. It just seem like an impossible choice to have to choose between being on your own and being with so-called friends who opresses you. Being free is being able to be who you are. We are supposed to be different aren’t we? So why do we have so much difficulty accepting each others differences, sigh.

  17. Hi Trudy

    The law of conformity is indeed a reality. You are right about tending to become the average in terms of the specifics you mentioned. Recently (1 year ago) I moved away from the place I had lived for the past 35 years or so. And again , you are right; it’s a bit lonely and not at all easy making new friends. But I have huge aspirations, so perhaps this was, all along, a step along the path for me – something I had not fully appreciated till now.

    Will :)

  18. Your post hits me on a personal level. There was a boy in high school who was a year ahead of me. He was super smart and very funny. He could be a bit of a smart aleck, but was well liked by all and had a very high IQ. However, he was a bit socially inept and hung out with the wrong crowd at school. Usually the smart kids would only hang out with the smart kids. I was one of those kids. This boy had some smart friends in the beginning of high school, but as he grew older he fell in with the bad crowd. The crowd that did drugs, cursed, and were involved in endeavors of the opposite gender. Suddenly the smart nerdy boy who had hitherto been the top of his classes stopped caring about school and was addicted to marijuana by the age of 15. Somewhere between the ages of 15 and 16, he stopped taking marijuana.But from the ages of 16 and 17, he could care less about school and stopped taking the highest classes offered at high school. He was more obsessed with drugs and girls. Finally the summer before senior year, he died of a heroin overdose surrounded by other friends taking drugs. His death shocked the community. It was known throughout school that he had been a drug addict, but no one knew how serious it was. His family was devastated. If he had never gotten in with the wrong crowd, there is no doubt in my mind that he would have concentrated on school and do a lot of things in his life. Sadly he did not and the world has been robbed of a brilliant mind since.

  19. I used to skip school and hang out with friends. I was a 98% student in most of my science courses and an eager learned. I did all of my learning at home by myself. School was too boring and distracting for me. I turned out okay and feel happy with life. Sitting in a desk having adults judge me and conform me, will never work for me. I enjoy being lit up and engaged with life. Great article

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