To some people, it might seem really obvious to hang out with friends who are supportive and accepting of who you are, however you are.
But for me, in school and in life, I tended to hang out with whatever group of people circumstances handed me. People in my classes. People in my department at work.
It wasn’t until just a couple of years ago that I realized:
You can pick your friends.
(And I’m not going to apologize for the “you can pick your friends and you can pick your nose” reference. Gross? Maybe. But this post just got a whole lot more memorable, didn’t it?)
It sounds like such a basic friend commandment, but how many people are in your life who leave you feeling drained and frustrated?
More importantly, how many people are in your life who really fill you up and help you feel good about yourself?
Freaky on the inside
I don’t look like a freak on the outside. I’ve got one tiny tattoo. I’m white, heterosexual, married, and own real estate.
But on the inside I always felt like there was something wrong with me, because I felt suffocated by all the things I was doing because That’s The Way It’s Done. All those things that nobody else seemed to have a problem with.
Eventually in my efforts to stop being miserable, I accepted the fact that my lucrative IT career was never going to fulfill my desire to make a difference. I had no idea what kind of difference I wanted to make, but I started looking for the next thing.
And soon I realized that the next thing wasn’t going to be a typical thing.
Simultaneously, I started to see that some of my apparent flaws weren’t flaws at all – they were just characteristics to be accepted. (What? I’m not defective because I don’t want to be told how to dress?)
Once I was able to accept some of those traits, it became clear I’d never be able to thrive in any regular job.
That scared the shit out of me.
And even scarier, I started to see that in order to thrive as an entrepreneur, I’d need to build my business from the inside out, which meant there was no real map for me to follow.
Yes, there were other coaches out there, but a lot of what I saw them doing didn’t feel like me.
The thought of trying to tell my so-called friends what I wanted to do made me nauseous. And the few times I did try to share it, it always came out wooden and stiff, because I didn’t feel safe enough to gush about it.
Barbara Sher says that isolation is the dream killer.
Damn right, it is.
Somehow, maybe simply by virtue of the fact that I was looking for supportive people to hang out with, I got hooked up with a group that included Kyeli and Pace.
That made a huge difference.
Was it still scary to “come out” to the world and say I wanted to be a coach? Absolutely. (In fact, I still choke on that word a bit, because it has some unfortunate connotations associated with it.)
But knowing that my friends were behind me, rooting for me, helped me to feel like I could do it anyway.
As I’ve talked with friends and clients, I’m understanding the importance of support at a deeper level.
Just as our families influence our sense of “normal” while we’re growing up, the people we surround ourselves with create our sense of “normal” as adults.
Okay, sometimes it still seems a little crazy, but now that I know lots of people doing their own unique things to support themselves, it seems normal enough to try it.
And by seeking out the support of my true friends, the things that gave me the shakes before now seem like much less of a big deal. I have more energy to invest in the things that are important to me, because I’m not having to waste it on “fitting in.”
Maybe you have no interest in starting a business – that’s completely okay. Really this is about finding support so you can be the real you, whatever that may look like.
Who do you have in your life that helps you feel safe enough to be a freak?
How can you spend more time with them and less time with the people who don’t help you feel safe?
Victoria Brouhard is a former database programmer who decided to flick boogers at the Man and do her own thing after developing a solid support network. Now she works with clients one-on-one to help them find ways to do what they love without feeling like they’re jumping into an abyss. She tweets as victoriashmoria and blogs at http://www.victoriabrouhard.com/blog.