Stop Drinking the Kool-Aid

Be Your Own Leader and Make Your Own Flavor

By LJ Innes

When I say, “Stop drinking the Kool-Aid,” I don’t mean the colorful, fruity-flavored stuff you shared with your childhood friends. I mean the stuff you get into with your friends when you’re older. From adolescence to adulthood many of us find ourselves hanging out in groups or with a certain bunch of friends who are of like minds. They can be our peers or even people we look up to and wish to emulate.

The Group Mentality

Groups, big and small, can have unwritten codes of conduct, rules about how to act, who to like, how to dress, who to talk to, and so on. It’s the Kool-Aid that has you thinking like the group, rather than freely expressing your individuality. For instance, high school can be a time when you’re getting your first real taste of the Kool-Aid by belonging to a clique, such as the jocks, the geeks, the socialites, or the “Heathers,” the mean girls of cult classic fame who ruled their school through intimidation. You realize early on that groups can be far more influential than individuals. But the Kool-Aid can come from any group or ultra-influential person who shapes our actions at any time in our lives.

Having that group to rely on can be comforting at times and frustrating at others, just like any family. And not everyone thrives in a group environment. Certainly, if you are an individual-type person, you will have little patience for the group mentality, especially a clique like the “Heathers.” If you find yourself … (keep reading)

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