Friendships and human connection are a major part of the lives of the majority of people living amongst us. Humans are social creatures and thus desire to connect with others. Many people, more specifically teens, have the mentality of “group=safety” whereby they spend the majority of their teenage years thriving on the idea of “fitting in” rather than being an individual.
Now, there is no issue with wanting to fit in and there’s no problem with wanting to find friends that resemble oneself but the toxicity comes when the desire to fit in puts your happiness at stake. In essence, it becomes an issue when you go out of your way to change yourself in order to gain respect and admiration from those who you associate yourself with. This can be in the form of changing your passions or interests, compromising your personal morals and adapting your appearance. These are all toxic signs. I’m not generalising all circumstances and I’m not dictating that all people who experience this are in toxic friendship groups, but from personal experience and from the tales of those close to me who have also encountered these situations, it is a good sign that you may need to reassess your friendships.
Friendship should not be competitive regarding things that you cannot control; ie: looks, weight, popularity, intelligence, family life, but instead ones friendship should encourage you, support you, value you and of course help you to believe that you can reach your goals. We should be quicker to listen to others than we are to speak and I believe this is important, especially when one requires the care and attention of the other.
Everyone is an individual, so it’s by no means a 1-for-all topic. It’s not always a matter of acquiring meaningful friendships overnight. It does happen though, that people meet, unexpectedly, and become the best of friends but also note that friendship is a journey, not a destination. You’ll meet many amazing people as you go about your teenage years, and some will become lifelong friends. However, do not live in blatant ignorance. Although I value all people regardless of their past actions and do not believe that a person alone can be toxic, I do strongly understand that not all friendships you encounter will be sincere, so just be mindful. Ultimately, friendship and human connection is so important and I hope and pray that you all develop powerful friendships that will lessen the downsides of this beautiful life.