One fact is certain: You are evolving right this very minute. Change is inevitable.
If you don’t pay attention to your environment, you will unwittingly become something you may not have wanted.
Sometimes even your mindlessness can lead to your worst nightmares.
I’ve seen this happen far too often.
People tell me they want to “change their lives” or achieve “something huge,” but continue spending lots of time stuck in their old habits or holding on to old buddies who are going nowhere in life.
My heart breaks for a specific high school friend, whom I’ll call “Maria.” Just a few short years ago, she was in a great relationship and well on her way to his dream job. Yet, she sabotaged and ultimately ruined both her relationship and her career prospects. Maria didn’t realize the subtle influence just one friend, Loren, was having on her.
It turns out Maria was hanging out a few times per week with Laren. Together, they drank alcohol, watched movies, and ate junk food.
To Maria, a few hours per week “chilling” with Lauren seemed harmless.
Maria failed to realize she was slowly taking on the form of Lauren environment.
Lauren, though a friendly person, is also very cynical and negative toward life. She spends all of his free time drinking, watching TV. She’s condescending and likes putting others down. Deep down, she hates herself, and thus finds joy pulling others down to her level.
During this time, I was busy working and doing my undergraduate degree. Yet, every six to eight months, I’d spend a few hours hanging out with Maria and Lauren. During those short exchanges, I’d notice minor but recognizable differences in Maria.
She was slightly more sarcastic or pessimistic.
She’d make a negative side comment about her friends.
She’d periodically use swear words and derogatory language, which she never did before.
Her room was messy and there was trash all over her floor.
It’s important to note that Maria’s boyfriend created an environment that allowed these behaviors to happen. Or more likely, he was reacting to the changes occurring outside of him and equally oblivious to their effect.
These changes weren’t dramatic.
In fact, they were a slow boil, happening over the course of five years.
But they weren’t hard to see—especially to me, someone looking at Maria from the outside. I was able to see things in Maria that she couldn’t see in herself. The changes occurring in her were minor when measured day to day, which is how we see ourselves. Yet, when measured in six-month intervals, the changes were quite stark. Accordingly, I could predict, even years in advance, that if she continued hanging out with Lauren, she’d probably end up leaving her boyfriend or smashing her life to pieces. To me, it felt inevitable.
In retrospect, Maria would likely say that the changes she’s made in her life over the past few years were of his conscious choosing.
She wants to feel like she has ownership and control over her life.
However, if you had asked her five years ago if she wanted to be alone and jobless, she would have told you “absolutely not.” She didn’t plan for the evolution that occurred in her. She didn’t realize her “friend” Lauren was subtly and slyly chipping away at his value system and ambitions. She didn’t realize that her environment had an agenda (as all environments do).
Maria had surrounded herself with a loser, and then became a loser herself. To quote the Stoic philosopher Plutarch, “If you live with a lame man, you will learn to limp.”
In a similar way, you need to have a full-on coming-of-age moment.
This moment must also be a point of no return.
Once you cross the point of no return, a great deal of confusion and ambiguity dissipates.
You’re no longer running from the roles required by your situation.
You’re no longer willing to allow yourself and those around you to needlessly suffer due to your lack of care.
You’re no longer concerned about the consequences or risks involved in being completely honest with yourself and everyone else.
You’re no longer willing to live a lie, and thus, you will no longer tolerate a mismatch between your convictions and your environment.
Being radically honest with who you need to be is all that matters now.
The opinions of others are irrelevant.
The uncertainties about the situation are irrelevant.
The difficult emotions you must face are no longer barriers.
Your relationship with toxic people can no longer remain the same.
Either they must respect your situation and what you must do, or you’ll have to leave them behind.
There’s no other option; the stakes are too high for you right now. There’s no going back. You’re willing to face your fears and inner demons head-on. You’re willing to give up your low living, your idleness, your wastefulness, your bad habits and addictions, your instant gratification, and your distractions. You’re willing to take up the responsibility required of you. You’re willing to be the person you must be. You’re willing to change your environment for the betterment of yourself and those you love. It’s time to be the person you know you can be. It’s time to put cheap and small living behind you. Your world needs you to rise up. Your situation is poised.
Viktoriya and Oksana Gruzdyn are Nutritionists and Immunotherapy Researchers based in Detroit, MI. They specialize in helping people reverse autoimmune and other chronic illnesses by optimizing their immune function and cellular repair.