Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Developing Standards

I think it's so ironic that we spend most of our childhood trying to make new friends and feel "accepted" to only grow up being picky about whom we choose to spend time with.

Honestly, I don't think I ever had a lot of friends when I was younger. I had a select group of people I hung out with grade school, middle school and then high school. Granted, the quality of the friends changed over time, but I was never the popular kid or the girl who always had people around her. One thing is for sure though - I never went to the "wrong" crowds and when my friends started going in that direction, I like to think I was good at course correcting.

As I grow older that has changed. There are so many people around that we now have the luxury to actually choose whom we befriend. Ok, so they have to like me, too, I get it. But I realized now that just because someone likes me or wants to be my friend, doesn't necessarily mean I have to like them back. Sounds simple right?

The problem with a lot of people that may have potentially had similar childhood experiences as me (ie: small, caucasian centric town, living as a minority, trying to fit in) is that they grow up looking for friends and then when they have the luxury of selecting, they don't filter. Which brings me to my topic of standards.

At some point in your life, you just have to develop standards in terms of what you appreciate, what you don't appreciate, how you want to live your life and who you choose to be in your company because their characters coincide with your set of standards. And course correction is likely guaranteed. As you grow into certain sets of standards, you will likely grow out of certain friendships.

I like to think I've done this all my life. Even when I was in high school - I started to observe that my parents had certain friends that I didn't really approve of. Funny that a high school kid could say that about her parent's friends right? I just thought they were not of the exact character I respected and if it weren't for the fact that there was only 5 chinese families to befriend in my hometown, they wouldn't have to be friends with them. I don't remember what they had to say to that. Probably that they had good traits, too. My opinion was - not enough of them. So it's easy to make judgments when you dont' have to deal with those people. Or you just self-select yourself out of a certain crowd. But it's hard when social circles entertwine and you just don't prefer certain people and are sometimes forced to be around them even if you disapprove.

These thoughts also come at the same time I realize that life is short (with the passing of my good friend Christina). We should be picky about who we choose to be in our company, because life is about growing to be the best person you can be and making sure you surround yourself with the best people that will enable you to become that. Spend more time with those you love. And be selective about those you don't love yet.

Selection criteria you ask? Ask yourself what your standards are. For me: I want good role models at my maturity level or higher. Always strive to be greater!


cpao said...

Gosh, this is a deep topic...but one that's been on my mind as well. I would probably add to this that in addition to being picky, you sometimes have to learn how to let go. Especially in recent years, despite the internet age, where people can theoretically stay in touch forever, there are people that you just grow out of touch with. Lives change and people grow in directions that would be hard to understand without being either near or in constant contact with that person. At some point in time, you have to accept that circumstances have changed, and both yourself and that friend have new priorities... Which makes it all the more important to hold EXTRA hard onto those friends that you really deem special, more so with all of the changes that happen in these coming years... marriage, children, things that will take time away from time spent building and maintaining friendships.

pachi said...

I'm with you. That's actually the more difficult task. Dropping those that used to mean something to you - not hand-picking the new ones.

Maybe someday you will return to the states so we can keep each other in that special category...

Greg Klinder said...

I have detached myself from one old friend based on character. I'm still not sure that it was a wise decision. As soon as mutual friends see this happen, the assumption is that they might be next. It's nearly always seen as hard-hearted or even mercenary. And, in retrospect, perhaps it is.
I think it is quite wise to form friendships carefully. However, once a friendship is forged, the reason for detaching yourself from that friendship had better be unforgivably serious. I don’t think life should about making yourself a better person. Leave that to the narcissistic body builders and Tibetan monks. A far better goal is to make life better for others and the world in general. What did Bill Gates and Warren Buffet discover after they had made their billions? The next phase was to give it away in such a way as to make the world a better place.

Pachi said...

Greg, thanks for leaving your thoughts! It's an interesting perspective, really, which I've heard from two people now. That sometimes I exist to make someone a better person.

But yes, I continue to develop friendships carefully.