Does success change people? Some studies say it does. The Journal of Vocational Behavior found that an increase in prestige makes someone less extraverted, while an increase in income makes someone less neurotic. Further research out of University of California, Berkeley, found that the ultra-wealthy may be less empathetic than those of a low income. The study showed that the wealthier people become, the worse they get at reading people’s facial expressions. Another study out of UC Berkeley found that those who drive luxury cars are less likely to stop at pedestrian crosswalks. Research out of the University of Utah found people are more likely to lie after simply hearing or speaking about money.
We may not like it, but the data is all there: money does change people. Of course, money is just one part of it. There’s also notoriety, fame, status, prestige, access, clout…the list goes on. These are all things that often come with money, and play into the psychological and behavioral changes discussed above. None of this has to change a person. You’re always in control of your destiny. But if your circumstances do change for the better, and rather suddenly, it’s important to remember who you are. Here are ways to keep your priorities in check after success.
Put your old friends first
There will be a lot of new friends when success comes. They aren’t all fake. Some of them you just didn’t have the chance to meet until you started getting into certain spaces. It’s natural to want to have friends who are at your career level and understand your hustle. That being said, your old friends should always come first. They already proved their loyalty to you has nothing to do with your success because they were there for you when you had no success. Making less room for old friends and more room for those who showed up when you became “somebody” is the quick path to loneliness. Most of those friendships will waver as frequently as your accolades do.
Don’t ask old friends to change
Your old friends shouldn’t have to behave in a new way in order to hang with you. Anybody who wants to be in your life should accept your old friends the way they are, and see what you find so lovable in them. If you consistently find yourself in social settings where your old friends wouldn’t “fit in” – it’s not your old friends who need to change, but rather your choice in social settings that needs to change. Be proud of your old friends, just as they are, in the same way they were always proud of you before you were a big deal.