You Are the Company You Keep
Proverb 13:20 reminds us that when we walk with wise people, we become wise. And when we hang around with fools, we suffer the fate of a fool. What does this mean? It means we take on the behaviors and the traits of those we are with the most. And if those people aren't making good choices, we will suffer the consequences along with them. What does this have to do with addiction and seeking treatment? Whatever we surround ourselves with, we become in various ways. If we stay on social media for hours, those interactions become a part of our emotional lives. If we hang out with people that are school-centered and focused on their futures, we take in that work ethic. If we hang out with people who are drinking and doing drugs, the likelihood of us following the same fate is high. Whatever we watch, read, do, we absorb. Whatever we choose to be around, we ingest, and it becomes a part of us. So, how do we know if we keep good company? Let's asses together. Tim is a 16-year-old boy who has had the same two best friends, Kevin and Michael, since Kindergarten. They live down the street from each other, they hang out together every day after school, and they spend the summers together. But lately, Kevin stopped doing his homework. He'd rather play video games instead, which resulted in failing two classes that term. And Michael has started to hang out with the older kids ever since he made the hockey team. He even told Tim he drinks with them once in a while on the weekends. Now, when the boys hang out, they don't pay much attention to their homework, they focus on video games, and the conversation is based on how they can trick their parents to get to senior parties. Deep down, Tim isn't completely sold on this new lifestyle. He has even tried to share his feelings about a girl he is interested in. However, his friends, dismissing his feelings, call him gay for trying to share his emotions. They also make fun of the girl because she is in the Drama Club. What do you think about these behaviors? Should Tim reconsider the amount of time he spends with his friends? But Tim has known these boys his entire life, we argue. He can't just abandon them, can he? Fast forward—Tim's grades start to slip because his friend group doesn't want to work on their projects together anymore. Tim gets in trouble for lying about going to a party with Michael. Tim is becoming unhappy because he has no emotional outlet. Is his life over? Of course not, but which path is he on? The path to multiple options after he graduates high school? The path to emotional growth? Or the path to limiting his options based on poor grades and substance abuse? There is no one right answer here. Maybe Tim will be fine, but looking at it from the outside, it's clear there is a trend towards unhappiness, repression, and limited success. More importantly, just because he's known Kevin and Michael his whole life does not mean he owes them it.
Questions to Assess Friendship QualityIt might be the time in your life to evaluate the company you keep. Here are some questions to get the ball rolling: -Do my friends get in trouble a lot/get me in trouble? -Do my friends drink or do drugs for fun? -Do my friends pressure me to do drugs or drink? -Do my friends make fun of people and put them down? -Do my friends call me names and make rude comments about my feelings or choices? If you answered yes to any of these questions, ask yourself if this is the company you want to keep. What about these questions? -Are my friends there for me when I need them? -Do they support my choices, even if they don't agree with me? -Do my friends let me talk about my emotions without making fun of me? -Can I cry around my friends without being ostracized? -Do my friends study, do their homework, take school seriously? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may have some great people in your life. Are people perfect? No. Are all friendships perfect? Absolutely not. But if our friends, our support systems, aren't allowing us to grow in a healthy way, it's time to reassess the company we keep. We deserve people in our lives that genuinely love us, listen to us, and support our choices. It can be difficult as a teenager to find our groups but to get there, sometimes it means cutting the ties we've had for most of our life to find the people that will stay with us for the remainder of it.
If you struggle to maintain healthy friendships and or feel like you don't have any friends, Stonewater Adolescent Recovery Center is here to help. Fostering a warm and welcoming environment, their top specialists want to help you create boundaries, release addiction, and make real, meaningful friendships that will last a lifetime. If you or an adolescent you know needs help, call 662.373.2828 to find out your options today. No one has to walk alone, but we can choose who to walk with. Let the team at Stonewater walk with you into a happy, healthy future.