When I was about 13, I had a friend that I spent a lot of time with. I didn't really recognize it at the time, but she wasn't really wasn't the nicest person ever. She was my friend, so I didn't see it... but she definitely wasn't nice to her mom and, even more so, not nice to her younger sister.
My mom has said that, when I would spend extensive amounts of time with this friend, I would come home and, for a couple of days, I would act out in the ways I had experienced. I would be nastier to my sisters myself. I would be snottier with my mom. I, of course, denied these things at the time... but in retrospect, I can look back and see that they were true.
It was probably this experience, more than anything, which taught me that who you spend your time with makes a difference in how you behave and who you become.
A Big Idea for me over the past year has been the thought that you get to choose who you want to be. If you want to be a kind person, you can choose to be a kind person. If you want to be well-read, you can choose to be that. If you want to be compassionate or rude or generous or stingy, you can make those choices. And the choices that other people make don't have to dictate the choices that you make for yourself.
But along with that... there is an understanding that who you expose yourself to has an impact on the person you are choosing to be. It's a lot easier to be positive when you are spending time with positive people. It's easier to spend time reading when you are around people who understand the value in that activity. It's easier to choose to show kindness to those around you when you spend some time with people who are kind themselves.
And these things are connected. You get to choose who you want to be, and you can choose to be that thing, no matter what choices the people around you are making. But perhaps who we spend time with is an extension of our choices. If we choose to spend time with people who are mean and cruel, maybe that says something about how shallow our conviction to kindness really is.
I don't know... it's something to think about, isn't it?