Don’t fall into the habit of changing yourself for others

Having similar interests is great, but it’s better to not be a facsimile

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Tricia Drumm, Mill Valley News editor-in-chief

Two dollars. That’s stood between me and the video game. I scrambled around the house, desperately looking for a way to get two dollars. Eventually, my dad sent me to carry something down to the workshop in the basement. Giddy, I did it for him without question. As soon as the two dollar bills left his hands, I was on top of the world. I would finally be like my friend and have something to do with her.

That’s just one of the many ways I’ve tried to change myself for others, specifically my friends. I’ve struggled with self-identity for a long time, and I thought that taking my friends’ interests would help me find my own. That didn’t turn out to be true.

For a long time, everything I did or was interested in was because of my friends: I bought and played “Minecraft” for a while, read the first two and a half books of “The Mortal Instruments” series, bought and read another entire book series (which I ended up enjoying a lot) and was obsessed with “Undertale” for a while. From the very moment I realized that I had become a carbon copy of another person, I was determined to stray away from my friends’ interests.

Don’t take this the wrong way; it’s fantastic to like the same things as your friends. In fact, that’s how most relationships are formed. It’s easy to start a conversation with someone if you both tend to have the same interests.

But, there’s a difference between naturally having something in common with a friend and changing your interests for the sole purpose of having something in common with a friend. If you find yourself falling into the pattern of the latter, the relationship between you and your friend is going to rely only on what you have in common. Not only will you be a clone, but you’ll be a broken record — take it from me.

Changing who you are is a choice you have full control over”

— JagWire features editor Tricia Drumm

However, there are a couple exceptions, popular culture being one. Pop culture is an influence. You’re naturally drawn into the debate about which way a dog wears pants (on its hindquarters, by the way); choosing between Edward or Jacob, Captain America or Iron Man, and Gale or Peeta; deciding whether or not Jack could have fit on the door with Rose in the end of Titanic (they totally could have fit); and sharing, reblogging, liking and retweeting memes on social media.

Curiosity is another exception. For example, my friend likes to watch “New Girl.” After watching a couple episodes with her, I decided to see what the buzz was all about. Now, I’m on the fifth season, and I keep watching it because I genuinely enjoy the show, not to have something in common with my friend.

You do not “give in” to pop culture and you are not dictated by your curiosity. However, altering your personality and interests to help you fit in with your friends is not something that “naturally” comes along like pop culture. Changing who you are is a choice you have full control over.

Although it wasn’t an easy decision, I decided I’m done changing myself for others. I will no longer fake my interests in the name of commonality. I will read whatever books and listen to whatever music I want, even if my friends don’t share my enthusiasm. I’m not going to pretend to fawn over the same celebrities, even if it means I have one less idea to spark a conversation with. If having different interests than my friends means I drift away, then maybe it’s for the best.

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