I think everyone can tell when someone isn't being their “maximized self,” but I'm sure most of us don't bother interacting with EVERYONE each time we notice they are acting just a little off.

Even if we did, we don't always believe in our ability to endear ourselves to others and reach them where they need it. Saying bold things like, "I notice you spend a lot of time alone. I’ve seen you try to interact with people you're attracted to but they don't reciprocate,” and, “you seem to dislike your job." Even that small one. The small things add up.

Here is part of why detecting damage is so hard:

To me suicide is the ultimate example of someone struggling with real-life, because it doesn't have a window to their ideal life or dreams. Suicidal people say very little and don't want to appear upset. Because part of their hope of an ideal life is believing "I've got it all together." Or that one day they will.

They think that's what they're supposed to believe. Now, we challenge people for their dietary views, religious views, political views, and academic views, but why is there no mass argument against trying to be something you're not?

We put it in movies and music: “Be yourself!” But what if someone BELIEVES it’s their duty to use or outmatch their upbringing, family, friends, education, and current-skills (etc.) to become The Great Ideal?

I used to drink that Kool-Aid every morning, first thing when my feet hit the floor. And it motivated me! When I played football, completed my bachelor's degree, started writing music, did cross fit, improved my finances, played guitar in my church, and even prayed (even my Christian beliefs were affected by this ideal of being someone other than Me). Despite all of my gains, I felt angry, lonely, and resentful the whole time!

Why? Because if I did all of these things, then I would be “somebody.” But if I didn’t, I was no one. Or so I thought.

I can happily profess, that this mentality has slowly started losing its grip on me and the #1 factor I noticed was my DECISION to choose my friends and day-to-day relationships more carefully. People who drink without getting drunk, don't even entertain the idea of drug use, and guard their hearts from people that are hyper-sexual, over-eager, and lack generosity. Many of them are at least 5 - 10 years older than me.

They are some of the best friendships I've ever had, because they made me better.

I know people look at others that are happy or content and feel bitter, because I used to felt that way. We avoid them because we don't want to admit there may be something about us we've gotten wrong. Maybe what we NEED (for the sake of survival) is to quit a job, leave our partner, ignore a few friend requests, or choose no activity on a Friday night over the place where everyone is desperately peacocking and acting out to attract someone to appreciate their ideal self over their real self.

As a recovering over-achiever I have felt the long-term effects of choosing friends with better benefits. I'm at peace with myself. If you want to feel the same way, be warned IT IS HARD, but to quote one of my favorite rappers:

"My existence on this planet's for you, I ain't only here to benefit me

Yo, we need to make a change while there's still time

It is hard, and sometimes I struggle trying to reveal mine

I can guide you if you feel blind."

I just need you to be willing to journey into my ill mind."