How do we know what we want in life? What do we base our morals and standards and expectations off of?

In the past few months and even weeks, I have felt myself shift in my perspective of how others act towards me. We learn many of our attitudes from our parents and mentors while we are young, but we learn just as much from people around us who make mistakes and show us how not to be.

It’s a weird thing though, to look at a person’s actions and say, “I don’t want to be like that.” Or, “I admire them for what they do.”

I sometimes feel like my developed set of standards changes depending on who I’m with. And I’m still trying to figure out if that’s a bad thing or not. If I were to sit down by myself and write out a list of qualities important to me in a human being and qualities that were dealbreakers, I could do it easily and I can picture in my head exactly how that would look. But if I were to sit down with the 5 people I am closest to in my life, it would look worlds different.

Why?

I have always known I am a people-pleaser. This used to get me into trouble sometimes because I would put the happiness and comfort of others over my own well-being. I am learning to be more balanced and stand up for myself, but I know a part of me will always remain that way.

Many times in the past few months I have found myself believing in something I once thought to be ridiculous, doing something I once thought taboo, or learning about something I once thought worthless. And this is not only a result of meeting more and more people, but also opening my mind in general. Once someone is in your life long enough, they will eventually prove their true colors. And I have noticed about myself that I carry a certain amount of bias when it comes to people I have a high opinion of. But if they prove themselves to be of lesser character than I previously thought, my mind is opened to the faults in their own standards and the rosy gloss over their life is removed. Then I can learn from their mistakes and adjust my own morals.

As a result, whenever people enter my life and become important to me, my standards shift. And when people leave my life, they shift again. I have been experiencing a strange sort of personality confusion–not that my personality is based on the people in my life, but that I act slightly differently around each person I interact with and when I lose or gain someone, it takes a certain attitude shift to come to terms with this. I almost felt like a small part of my personality had withered away along with the relationship because the specific way I once interacted with that person will no longer exist once they leave my life. It is an overwhelming and intimidating feeling.

But I think this is merely a sign I have some more introspection to do. I know that I have a solid set of standards and attitudes, but I need to work on my objectivity. I tend to idealize people that I am close to and forgive them more readily for their faults. While forgiveness is an important quality to have, so is self-worth and pride. Forgiveness needs to know its limits, and sticking to my own standards is more important than making other people happy.

So the next question is, once I have my own morals figured out, how do I know what to look for in others and how do I deal when we don’t match up perfectly? Which things are important to me to share with someone and which anomalies are excusable?

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