But that’s OK.
Everyone in your life has come to expect a set of characteristics from you, they’re used to a certain identity of yours and certain actions; a set of beliefs about you. On the other hand, they also have a set of beliefs about themselves, life and how it should be lived.
When making any change to yourself — behaviour, principles, attitude; anything, really — no matter how big or small, those around you will not fully understand and agree with it because:
These changes don’t have to be drastic; you don’t have to be a new person all of a sudden; you don’t have to do anything inherently wrong; you just have to change. You'll be teased, made fun of, joked about, frowned upon, mocked or end up being excluded.
Now, don’t get me wrong, nor your friends. They don’t mean to attack you; they don’t want to hinder your progress nor mean you harm; they simply react to you being different from themselves and/or the group and don’t understand where you’re heading. They still care about you, but they also want the old you back and the group’s identity to remain unthreatened.
Say you want to start getting up at 7 AM, so you can have some extra time in the morning for building a new routine; that means you need to go to bed earlier, which means you have to come home earlier or not go out. Well, if your friends are night-owls or spend the evening out until 11 PM, expect to be at the very least teased for going home at 9 PM.
To name a few of my own, I’ve been teased and made fun of for coming home too early, for going to sleep too early, for waking up too early, for having to go home and feed the dog, for being ”too civilised”, for respecting the speed limit or parking spaces, for being ”too fair”. For most of my life, I haven’t even realised how these actually affected me.
As a real example, in the past year I cut the sugars as much as I could, but I do eat something sweet occasionally. I’ve had really close relatives, including my father, ask me twice if I don’t want another slice of whatever sweet I had in front of me, even though I already said no, even though they knew I’m trying to limit the sugar intake.
I’m 100% aware they meant no harm, in any way whatsoever and that they care about me and love me, I have no doubt about this and I care about them and love them as well; but it’s a good example of being misunderstood or conflicting with others’ belief system.
The downside of all this misunderstanding is that every tease or mock, question or simple remark, no matter how serious or mild it is, no matter if it was a joke or not, no matter if it was with the best intention, it affects you in the very slightest way; it makes you double question your choices; it makes you use more willpower to continue your path; it causes doubt. Even jokes!
Because ”what if they’re right?”, ”what if I’m going crazy?”, ”what if I made a wrong choice?”, ”come on, one more slice can’t be that bad” are questions that will pop into your head and you’ll have to fight them; and no matter how easy it is to dismiss them, it takes energy to do so.
The hardest part is the very beginning. That’s when you’ll need the most energy. That’s when the dangers of going back to your old self are the greatest. And that’s because at the start you’re conflicting with both your group and yourself. Most of your identity is still in accordance to the group.
Sometimes and for some people, that’s how the journey ends. That’s when they’ll go back to their old self and everyone will be ”happy again”; the group has ”succeeded” in ”saving” their member. But the saddest part is actually the fact that giving it another try in the future will be much harder — if ever — because they’ll have the past failure to deal with, on top of all the misunderstanding that will appear again.
So, remember, you will be misunderstood. But that’s OK. Just keep doing your thing and remember that no one really means harm, they still care about you, so don’t misunderstand back.