The Power of Influence

While I was growing up, I was often chided for being so much like my mom. I guess that was kind of expected considering I was the elder one and the “rule-follower” as the stereotype goes. It was this stereotypical nature of mine that led me to be greatly influenced by my mom. But when I started going to school, my mom always said, “Don’t always follow what others do and think for yourself.” It was quite ironic but it turned out to be good for me in a way. Influence is something we don’t have control over. It is something that comes unconsciously and linearly depending on how close we are to someone and how much we interact with them.

 

This story of people getting influenced by others starts the moment they begin interacting with each other and catalyzes every time there is a huge change in someone’s life. It all starts from the time we enter school, make friends, interact with our teachers, and that is when our idea of idealism and our priorities begin changing. Sometimes it becomes a confusing venture because the definition of perfection is different for different people and some people try to combine all of it by taking things to the unrealistic level. This is when they become so vulnerable that even a slight hint of influence can cause them to make major life decisions that may not be absolutely right for them later. We all must have faced this one question in our lifetime, “what do you want to do in life?” and maybe most of us still don’t know the answer to this question. Honestly, I still don’t know if pursuing engineering was the right decision for me and maybe I won’t know it anytime soon. There must be so many of us out there who are enrolled in a particular course not because we really wanted it but because it was chosen for us by some kind of elimination method or because the people who influenced us felt it was the right path. This does not mean that the direction we’re taking right now won’t be any good for us. It simply means that we will take some more time to understand ourselves better and our current path might help get us there.  

 

I had a friend in school who started taking coaching for her medical entrance exams from 9th grade itself. Not everyone knows what they want to do that early in life. I mean, I didn’t even know what I wanted to do till 12th grade! So once, I asked her how she was so sure about her career choice and I didn’t really like what I heard. She said both her parents and elder sister were doctors and since she had been hearing it from the very beginning it was almost natural for her to become one too. Now that’s what I call “the power of influence.”

 

Now let’s come to college life. That's what you call a real change in life, especially when you live in a hostel. When I came to college I met people from different cities, towns, and countries, and there came a point where I had to choose what is good and what is not so good for me. Now obviously, my parents had put in this long list of ‘Good’ and ‘Bad’ things that I might see in college but no one really told me how to deal with it and as I said earlier, the more you spend time with someone the more you get influenced. However, the catch is that there is an almost negligible influence when you are surrounded by people similar to you. I was lucky to find the latter group of people but there were a few who made questionable choices and found themselves really struggling. Nonetheless, there were people who excelled beyond their imagination because of the people around them. 

 

Influence cannot always be categorized as black or white for it shows different shades of grey. It ultimately comes down to when we realize that there is something different about us which was not there initially. Then the step of realization creeps in and we have to decide what to keep and what to leave.