You are who you hang out with

By Gierra Cottingham | LTVN Reporter/Anchor

“How could that person treat me that way, and their friend just thinks it’s OK?”

Growing up, I would stress this thought to myself, enduring the drama that comes from playing sports and being raised in a multicultural family amid white school settings. In turn, my mom would remind me that birds of a feather flock together.

Throughout my years, I have come to realize that most of us possess the same “feathers” as our closest friends and the people we consistently interact with. However, are your feathers allowing you to fly to greater heights, or is it time to shed a few because you don’t have the potential to flourish in your flock?

Sometimes it may not even be who you’re hanging out with but who you’re not hanging out with that prevents you from improving emotionally, physically, spiritually and mentally.

At a young age, there is a tendency to act like the group that befriends you. Your characteristics may even begin to mirror theirs through your body language or your clothes. In college, the pattern repeats itself with us settling into our bubble of who we think fills our cup.

It’s important to remain mindful of separating “looking cool” from long-term well-being. Nonetheless, it can be easy to give in and blindly lower your values for people who don’t have your best interests in mind.

It’s important to be careful and note that you could be reflected in someone else’s good or bad actions. For example, when a Kappa Kappa Gamma member wore a blackface mask this semester, it didn’t merely matter who specifically had it on, because the act reflected badly upon the entire sorority. More strikingly, the people who were pictured with the member wearing a blackface mask look agreeable to the racially offensive history behind the notion.

If you choose to surround yourself with peers who don’t acknowledge self-growth or well-being, you most likely never will either. However, if you decide today that your peers are flattening the tires of your energy bus, new revelations will naturally come your way. Remember that good leaders are often surrounded by great people.

For instance, when I began attending church more and connecting with people who had genuine hearts, it was evident that my “friends,” who ignored intellectual thinking about life itself, were not serving me toward an authentic purpose. Shifting toward Jesus’ love, these chains slowly began to dissolve in my life.

Try to create a change that departs from your social group’s norm, and keep your individuality sacred. The world doesn’t need a quadruple of the same person.

“If you find someone who shows a deep understanding of their character and behavior, you might be dealing with a highly intelligent person. Their ability to look inward and understand themselves is a clear indication of their intellectual prowess.” -Isabella Chase