It’s easy to become that guy. The one who is known for doing X or being Y or something Z. It doesn’t matter where it comes from or how valid the assessment is, it is a mark that sticks to you, and it is a difficult one to remove. For many people, these characterizations have little effect, or even prove to have a positive influence on their lives. But for just as many, if not more, these external pressures place them in a feedback loop that merely accentuates that part of their personality, irrespective of their feelings on the matter.
Over time, they become indoctrinated to the idea that they are what people say they are, and in fact, they are meant to be that. Oftentimes it feels easier to play along than to break the mold, and easier to write off behavior as being an indelible part of your core character than to admit that it isn’t. It’s as if the initial inescapable nature of these characterizations are assumed to be, and in fact accepted as, permanent fixtures. But all too often, it is the subject of the rumors and the target of these characterizations who keeps up appearances long after they are due to disappear. But why would people decide to shoehorn themselves into a specific segment of society, even when they don’t feel that they belong there?
And therein lies the problem; today we live in a society that places so much emphasis on having a direction and a plan that adopting a set of ideals and tendencies, even those that are wholly synthetic, becomes an attractive alternative to being unsure of the future. It is the unspoken pressures to fit in that motivate the creation and sustainment of these facades, because the thought of abandoning the friends and connections that one already has is often a scarier option than living an unhappy existence. But that is not how it should be.
Life is not meant to be lived to other people’s standards, no matter the circumstances. While I don’t condone reckless and dangerous behavior because of the effects that it can have on other people, I also don’t think that your own emotional state should be compromised for something as superficial as fairweather friends. In the long run, no short term embarrassment or loneliness will matter, but the wasted time and missed opportunities will, and when those same friend groups dissolve, as they almost inevitably do, the regret and doubt will only undermine any attempted course corrections.
So step back, take a look at your life, and decide if you are truly living the life of the person you want to be.