“You can’t change the people around you, but you can change the people around you.”

Recently, I’ve found myself in a few situations that I did not want to be in. I was in a conversation with a relative that was taking a sour turn, a difficult meeting with my boss, and surrounded by coworkers who took a joke too far. It is in these instances where I remind myself of this quote. I have no control over their behavior or thoughts. I do have control over how and when I interact with them. I regularly experience l’esprit d’escalier, staircase wit, where I can only devise my response after leaving the conversation. This often leaves me vulnerable in difficult conversations and I find it hard to stand up for myself and my values. Because of this, I find it most helpful to leave an interaction when possible, gather my thoughts, write them down if necessary, and return later. I can’t change how the people around me act, but I can leave the situation to get myself into a better headspace.

I’ve also found this strategy helpful for people – friends, family, or acquaintances – that don’t support me in my pursuits, including pole. I may not be able to change the stigma surrounding pole dance, but I can surround myself with people who accept it as a part of me. I try to limit negativity and toxic energy from anyone around me by deciding who gets to sit at my table. A seat at your table is prized, so only offer the privilege of sitting there to those who deserve it, who support, accept, motivate, and inspire you to be better. Anyone else can sit at another table, but not yours. And when you change the people around you, you will notice an improvement in your happiness, your stress, and the trajectory of your life