I judge the people that surround me. I am not afraid to say it nor do I feel any shame. I look at them as individuals and I judge them on the merits of their character. We can call that a “mid-year evaluation” as they do in the corporate world. I judge them on their actions, deeds, words, behavior and attitude. While judging my people, I do not take the context away, nor do I forget that they are specific individuals with a history of their own. Everyone is unique and not taking their specific traits into consideration, well, that would be immensely unfair.

Why do I do that? That might be slightly convoluted. Nevertheless, I don’t believe it is. I judge them for one simple reason: I want to make sure we are still on the same side, I must know we still share the same values at the very least. I don’t expect us to share the exact same opinions but allow me to say that I need us to be in the same area code when it comes to common values. Those values are the ones that brought us together once upon a time and made us appreciate each other’s company. If I realize that you are slipping, changing inexorably and that your values don’t match with mine anymore, then, the relationship might come to an end. It will not be brutal, mean or petty. If we don’t vibe anymore, there is no need to hang out anymore. It is simple as that. All things come to an end, and sometimes, that includes relationships, of any kind.

The people that surround you, the company you keep, that group of people defines you more than you know. We tend to hang out with people who think like us, people who act and live like us. That is where we feel safe. That space reassures us, it gives us a sense of peace and belonging. Humans are a tribal species, one that believes in social constructs. We are not meant to be alone or live on a mountain away from others. We need contact, we need to talk, touch each other, fight, hug, kiss, etc. We gravitate to those who are like us. Our instinct dictates it and we just look for that company.

My point for today is: Surround yourself with people who are better than you at something or who are better than you at a few things. Surround yourself with people that inspire you, that motivate you. Be around people that have something you are lacking. Be around people that push you to improve. Be around people that call you on your shortcomings. Be around people that do not humiliate you. Be around people that have something for you to emulate. Personally, I have found being around people that are better than me at something, to be an infinite source of motivation and inspiration. I believe that most people look for ways to improve, to be better and instinctively, we look for such people.

I am not talking about being around geniuses, innovators, uniquely talented artists, successful businessmen/women so you could be inspired and motivated. It isn’t necessary. It isn’t imperative and dare I say it isn’t even attainable by the common man/woman. This close knitted circle of people I just mentioned, is a rare space that is almost impossible to penetrate. It is rare but if that kind of opportunity knocks on your door and on the other side you see Gates, Oprah, Spielberg, Obama and their friends, make sure you join them.

Most of us will not have that blessing in our lifetime. Frankly, I don’t even think we need it, I know I don’t. Some people want to be millionaires, billionaires, celebrities etc. However, I believe the common man and woman just want a decent and meaningful life, one that is filled with health, joy, financial independence and peace. Most of us don’t need Ferraris, 5-6 houses, and so many other material things that don’t do much except prove you have stuff.

Let’s also make something clear: Being better AT SOMETHING doesn’t mean BEING BETTER. There is a crucial difference. Some people are better at organizing their house, but they might be abusers or thieves or killers. They are better AT SOMETHING BUT THEY SURE AS FUCK AIN’T BETTER PEOPLE! I know!!! In this politically correct era, it isn’t polite to say some people are better than others. Well, some people are better than others. A person who steals to avoid dying of hunger is infinitely better than pedophiles and rapists. I believe I proved my point with that last unfortunate analogy.

Well, in my case, as virtuous as I aspire to be, I do look for people who are better at things than me and if possible, who aren’t worse than me as people. There is no way to be sure about the last part therefore I go with their energy and general vibe that emanates from them. I always seek people who can teach me, people I can learn from by just observing them, people who have human qualities that inspire me, people who work harder than me, people who are more eloquent than me, people who fight harder than me, people who are stronger than me, etc. I talk to them every chance I get. I always ask questions such as “how did you do that? How do you deal with this? What would you do here? Can you help me with this? Show me how you did that. Where did you get that? Why did you do this?”

I am blessed to have around me people that are better than me at certain things. I am proud to say that I still learn from them, that I still observe them. Moreover, I try to emulate them, never imitate them. I surround myself with people who are kind, smart, caring, loyal, honest, intelligent, who think outside the box, people who have interesting theories about life and so on. I am always around people who have fallen but always gotten back up. They teach me everyday and I respect them immensely for who they are and for what they do. Their mere existence and overall demeanor motivate me to be better and inspire me to get better at various things. If you can, find people that inspire you and stay close to them. That is one of those good fortunes that we tend to overlook. I am sure that without those people around me, I wouldn’t be half the writer I am today. Thanks to them and their stories, they have inspired me to keep doing what I do. May all the Gods bless them.

Just one man’s opinion.

Now smile and go on with your day.

Freeman. B

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