Aidan’s Infinite Play 25 The Lesson I Took From My Failed Relationships In College

Aidan’s Infinite Play 25 The Lesson I Took From My Failed Relationships In College
Photo by Jordan McDonald / Unsplash

Hello players!

In my first semester at Cornell, I made friends with the first few people I encountered.

I was terrified that if I didn’t make friends quickly, I wouldn’t make them at all. But about a month into the semester, I realized I didn’t resonate with the people I did find. I felt lonely, unmotivated, and sad.

The major thing I took from this experience is how much your closest relationships affect you.

This is because you’re socially influenced predominantly by the five people you interact with most.

If you don’t implement this idea, your relationships inside and outside college will pull you down instead of up.

In the rest of this essay, I will explain the following:

1. Why your social group influences what you care about

2. Why you have more influence than you think on others

3. How you can form a challenge group

1. Your Social Group Influences What You Care About

We tend to socially compare ourselves to those in our immediate environment even when objective metrics are available.

In one study by Medvec et al. (1995) Olympic silver medalists were shown to have lower self-esteem than bronze gold medalists despite the silver medalists objectively receiving the better reward. It’s theorized that the silver medalists were comparing themselves to the gold medalists, whereas the bronze medalists were comparing themselves to everyone who didn’t receive a medal. Even though the silver medalists did objectively better in the competition than the bronze medalists, social comparison with their immediate environment made them feel worse.

Similarly, the people you see most in college disproportionately influence what you care about.

Make friends with people who only care about grades, playing video games, or gossip, and you will become someone who only cares about those things.

However, if you make friends with multifaceted, driven, kind people (who like peanut butter!), you will start caring about those things.

2. You Have More Influence On Other People Than You Think You Do

In the same vein, You have more influence on other people than you think you do.

This idea culminates in one of my favorite philosophies of living life, rippling. Rippling is the idea that your actions in the world influence the feelings and actions of people you interact with, which in turn affect the feelings and actions those people ripple out to others in their day. So in effect, by coming across well in your relationships, you can also bring them ahead.

While I didn’t stay in my old friend group long enough to have these ripples spark actual change, I try and apply this rippling philosophy to my new friends and through my content creation.

3. Surround Yourself With A Challenge Group

Implementing these two ideas, I have surrounded myself with a challenge group at college.

A challenge group is a group of people who will challenge your ideas on the world constructively. You can have different challenge groups for different activities as well as a general friend challenge group, but three universal qualities make someone an ideal challenge group member: 1. They are disagreeable (critical, skeptical, and challenging) 2. They will argue over your ideas, not you as a person 3. They are more knowledgeable or skillful than you in something

Surrounding yourself with a challenge group stops you from stagnating as a person.

In my fourth semester of college, I have found a solid group of online and offline friends that bring me up instead of down. They have similar values, which makes me care about things that matter. And they challenge me in ways that make me better.

I can ripple this positive change to others in newsletters like this.

Here’s what I would like to share this week.

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