“If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.” Fred DeVito said that, and like a lot of great quotes, it can apply to more than one situation — your friends, your own life, even that deployment or that move that seems out to get you. Seek out friends who challenge you to become a better person and sidestep those superficial friendships — you know the ones, where the conversations just sort of bob on the surface.
Friends, old (as in many moves ago) or new (as in met you yesterday on the sidewalk while the movers carried your couch inside), should challenge you to be a better person. Let them expand your way of thinking, teach you something, or pull you out of your comfort zone.
Just as you seek out the challenging friends, be the challenging friend — not in an “I challenge you to a death match” sort of way, but in more of an “I challenge you to be the best you” sort of way. (Sorry, not sorry, friend.)
But, recognize this: Some people just aren’t ready to be challenged and make life changes. Try as you may, there’s just nothing you can do about it. Watching someone, especially someone you care about dearly, slip down a path that is dark and scary can build up the anxiety, passion, and need to intervene. If you’ve ever been in a dark, scary place, you know that getting out of it is tricky because you often don’t know you’re there — you just see one step ahead of you. This makes it harder to reach those people who aren’t ready to be challenged to do better.
Hitting that dark place is like running in the mud. On the surface, you see a shallow puddle and think, “This will be easy to cross. I don’t need any help.” But, as soon as your feet hit the mud, you start sinking. You realize that it is a lot harder than you ever could have imagined, and you wish you came prepared. You wish you had a plan. You wish you had a support system in place. You wish you had the right equipment to get you through it.
When your friend realizes she’s in the mud, that’s when she’ll be ready for you, so be up for the challenge. Be ready to be the challenging friend. If you’re the one in the mud, that’s when it’s time to open yourself up to a challenge and a friend willing to push you. Stop preparing for a puddle, and start preparing for a mud run.
Whether you’re challenging yourself or a friend who needs a change, know that it’s not going to be easy; challenges that bring change rarely are. There will be setbacks, push-backs, and hurt feelings, but perseverance is critical to success. If you want to have a better quality of life, you have to take the first step, even if it’s in knee-high mud.
Consider yourself challenged: Make the changes you need.
Wondering how you can make challenging friends? Learn how to Build Community as a Military Spouse Wherever You Go.
Photo Credits: Renee Slusser
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