When I'm passing through downtown on weekend nights, I often see attractive students going to bars together in their little groups.
I used to be envious of them when I was a socially repressed high schooler and in uni, before my social circle came together.
"If only I was one of them," I'd think.
"I wish I had a social life like that."
"I want to be one of those guys and bang some of those girls."
Then my dream came true. I became a Normal Young Person With a Social Circle and lived that lifestyle firsthand.
I'm 100% sober, at the time of writing this, for a reason.
My high school experience was the most major emotional wound behind my drinking. Without going into the details, let's just say that I started drinking habitually to fit in with my "cool" peers.
2 years of drunken partying later, I realized...
Popular and attractive people don't lack the demons and anxieties that less "cool" and attractive people have.
As a socially repressed high schooler and as a socially anxious uni student desperate to make up for lost time, I idealized my peers.
They all knew how the social world works and how they and I fit into it, but I didn't.
They all had fulfilling friendships and fun adventures, but I didn't.
Wrong. Everyone figures the social world out through trial, error, and experience. Everyone has their insecurities, inadequacies, and emotional wounds.
So imagine my enlightenment when I'd see other people, even seemingly attractive and cool ones, have their boneheaded blunders, get hurt and betrayed, and behave like dumbasses before or after some liquor.
I got narcissistic after that disillusionment with the social world.
I felt like reality was mine for the taking. No longer did I have to settle for drinking by myself on weekend nights, for watching other people party with their friends while I'd sit on the sidelines, and for hoping for a decent social life "someday" while everyone around me already had one.
I finally felt like a real person, not just an emotionally repressed productivity machine.
When I was sober, I'd keep my darker side in check, but when I was drunk, I'd indulge my narcissism. I'd emotionally manipulate people, lie or stretch truths, flirt or sleep with girls with boyfriends, flirt with people I wasn't even attracted to, and bring Hell upon Earth.
I felt like I deserved that indulgence. I was getting vindication for my lost teenage years.
Though I was finally a cool kid with some social status, my drunk behavior wasn't very cool.
After that, I went on a spiritual journey of redemption and healed the emotional wounds behind my drinking and narcissism, but that's a story for another day.
Let's stfu about me for now.
Let's talk about the people I'd meet at parties.
Girls would make regrettable sexual decisions then blame it on anything but themselves.
They'd talk about Instagram like they'd talk about school or work.
Guys would be just as clueless about girls as I'd be, and usually more so! Even when I was socially anxious and inexperienced! What the fuck!?
They'd do desperate, Hail Mary things in hopes of getting laid.
And almost any guy or girl I'd meet didn't drink as hard as I did. I guess they didn't have the repressed energy I did.
See why my idealism got shattered?
See why I didn't keep a tight grip on my narcissism when I'd get drunk?
Because I thought it was allowed! If those people could have their sinful indulgences, so could I!
Now I'm better than that.
I know that just because seemingly "cool" kids drink alcohol, doesn't mean I have to drink it to have social status.
The same logic applies to low-character behavior.
In hindsight, no one I met in the partying scene was without their character flaws or lessons left to learn.
Many people I initially thought of as "normal" were actually neurotic, selfish, or needy to unhealthy degrees. Or they simply turned out to be stable and unpolarizing; not the types of people I could get up to some Project X shit with.
If there's one take-away I want you to get from this e-mail, it's that:
You attract the behavior that you tolerate, both in yourself and others.
To avoid befriending low-character people who enable your shadow, be of high character. Have some damn standards for your behavior. Don't tolerate people of lower energy than you.
Everyone has a good side and a bad side to them. High-character people don't lack a shadow, they don't numb their shadow, and they don't let their shadow rule them. They're acquainted with the darkness they're capable of and choose not to unleash it.
I attracted the people I attracted because I was needy. I wasn't selective with my friends, therefore I attracted a group I was "meh" about in the end as I grew my sense of self and sense of purpose. I'd hang out with anyone as long as I could drink with them, then as I got experience in the social world, my standards grew.
If you're dissatisfied with your social life or you keep lapsing back into addiction, it's your fault for not having better standards for yourself.
Sometimes, nurturing those better standards means letting go of people who enable weak standards in you.
And when you do, don't worry.
You won't miss them.