Natalie Bejarano-Dugarte, Staff Writer

This past weekend, my friends and I all got together to study for our psychology midterm on Monday. As any study group can potentially turn out to be, this ended up being more of a socializing group than anything else. Still, I learned some very important things this past weekend that I am more than grateful for.

Several months ago, I considered myself one of those vulnerable freshmen that couldn’t seem to find the right group of friends to spend time with. I won’t bash any of the people I used to hang out with, but I’d like to say they weren’t the group of friends that I could see helping me grow as a person. This weekend, I realized that I had been around the wrong group of friends in the past who were affecting me negatively instead of helping me grow.

I feel like life is all about finding the people who will cherish you, won’t force you to be a certain way and who will just take you as you are. That was perhaps the biggest lesson I could have ever learned, and I’m lucky I learned it early on. It is very true that those who genuinely care about you and love you will never do anything to hurt you or make you change for them. When people point fingers at you and tell you that you should be more like “this” or “that,” look at the motivations behind their statements. Are they saying this because it’s true or because it’s a problem of their own that they’re displacing on you?

Finding the right friends will be evident as time goes on. You’ll find it through the sincerity of the conversations, and you’ll see it become more obvious in the ways they care about you. Having friends in your life is a huge blessing, but it can become a burden if you find they aren’t the right people. Friends are supposed to help you grow and become a better version of yourself. It’s just not right if they are constantly dragging you down. It takes time, but the right people are out there. Everyone has to make their own choices including who to be friends with, but if you see a particular friendship isn’t working, particularly a clash of beliefs or that the other person is trying to get you to change instead of accepting who you are, it’s time to leave that behind. It’s not like you’re considering yourself better than anyone else, you’re just doing what’s best for you.