Have you ever become more self-aware when you’re around a certain group of people? Maybe you’re like me, and you suddenly care deeply about typography and kerning when you’re talking to a graphic designer. Or chatting with a barista makes you want to taste samples of coffee from different regions and roast beans to prepare your own coffee at home (pour-overs are the best method, by the way).
It’s important to understand the way other people influence us. If I’m around people who value something, I’ll gradually grow to value that something, too, even if I don’t notice the shift right away. If I’m around people with quirky humor and memorable catch-phrases, I’ll start using the same lines with the same offbeat comedy.
The truth is that we become like the people we spend time with. (tweet that)
Since your identity is both revealed through your relationships and changed through your relationships, you should choose them wisely. Play a role in a community of people who are living how you want to live, who are doing what you want to do. Chances are, before too long, you’ll pick up some of who they are, and you’ll contribute to who they’re becoming, too.
We need a community of others who we can bounce ideas off of, who can help us handle whatever life throws at us, and who we can learn to love and serve as we mature. Who you are is connected to other people. Our developing identities cannot exclude the influence of other people.
Bumping Into People
Philosopher and media futurist Marshall McLuhan said:
“The quest for identity goes along with this bumping into other people in order to find out: who am I, how much power can I exert, how much identity can I discover that I possess, simply by banging against other people…The quest for identity is always a violent quest. It’s a series of adventures and encounters that create all sorts of disturbance.”
To understand who we are and who we’ll become, we’ve got to take into account the people around us. Our neighbors and communities and cities, who interact with us on a daily basis, reveal our identity by how we treat them, what we communicate to them, and how much we value them.
If your identity is tied to other people, how will you choose to see them, interact with them, and value them?