People become friends with the kind of people they think they deserve – this would explain why certain people always attract the wrong crowd and pursue people that are ‘worse’ than them. This is when you are instantly more comfortable with someone because you are riding better than them, and your failures and lack of responsibility for some things in your life are justified. Their shortcomings look bigger than yours, and so it feels safe to be friends with them because you do not have to confront the gap between where you are and where you want to be. Because honestly: there is a gap.

To follow from this thought, another reason we make friends with people ‘worse’ than us is that we believe we can help them. There is nobility in helping others, but it shouldn’t be at the cost of responsibility from both parties. We’re all responsible for our lives – that’s how we’re able to create value and make emotional transactions because we are the owners of ourselves and we should reap the benefits or costs of what we think about and interact with. Sometimes the best thing you can do to help someone is to show them what responsibility looks like – a ‘bad crowd’ is more than likely generated from people that feel like victims of their own lives and negate all opportunities to make a choice that will turn them around. If you take responsibility for your ‘failures’ – the shortcomings you have delayed facing for so long – then they will see their own in a light that doesn’t validate them but instead exposes them to responsibility.

For a long time, I would only make friends with losers. I saw it as a favour to them, and a relief to myself. I was helping them because I was slightly less of a loser, so I could show them what it looks like to be awesome – but what they really needed was grace, not another misguided person (me) telling them to stay where they were so the standard lowers for everyone else. It was a relief for me because suddenly my responsibility to maintain a high standard for myself was evaded and I never had to improve or try because my flaws were justified in light of theirs. There was also a thread of believing these were the people I deserved – which threads itself all the way back to believing I too didn’t have a chance of improving.

This strategy does not do good for either of you. You are feeling bad about giving up on yourself and they are left in the same state they were in, only more content to remain after seeing your struggle to change.

Side note: no one is a loser. The only difference between people, on this spectrum, is the level of responsibility they take for themselves and therefore the level they require from others for them. It is about the power you give yourself and the power that gets delegated to others as a result.

I will never have grace for someone else if I do not have grace for myself. It is natural to want to give things away, especially to the people you love, but you can’t give what you don’t have. If I am growing my community, and still building the relationships around me, I can’t look at someone else doing the same thing with a different reaction than I have to myself. It is only when I can see grace in in what I am building that I can see it in other people.

A resolving thought: become friends with people that are ‘better’ than you. People that have it together and take responsibility and encourage you to do the same. Make friends that allow you to fail, and to be growing, and friends that show you they are growing too. Show each other that you are growing but celebrate the moments when you both become closer to the person you are burgeoning to be. Choose friends that you are proud to be with and that draw you upwards by how they act. And when they need grace, show them the tools they need but let them learn to use the tools on their own.

It takes courage to consider this situation: if all of your friends were wonderful, healthy people that consistently challenged you to seek a higher standard of life and none that inspired you to give up on your decision to be powerful. That means that if compared, they wouldn’t be a justification for you not facing your own responsibility. Instead they would be a reminder of where you are headed (and potentially the reality of where you are now – this takes humility).

I make friends that are ‘too good’ for me – people I want to introduce to my parents and that show me all the beautiful things we can do with our lives. I pick people that I am proud of because of their consistency in giving themselves grace and their joyfulness in taking the narrow road. I am available to everybody but drawn to a few.

There is no competition in family – no comparison of shortcomings because we all have them and no chance to give up on ourselves because belief in each other is key. Family encourages you to grow, to keep pursuing a higher standard and to keep giving yourself grace when you are still reaching it.

The only way is up and the best thing to do is to see yourself where you are now and be honest with where you want to be. To realize you are enough but also realize the responsibility you have to be your own best friend and to make the best life you possibly can. The tools in your hand create the world you live in, and if the tools are bad, then you get new tools – not a new set of measurements. 

mads xx

Provoked by the writing of Jordan B. Peterson in “12 Rules For Life.”

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