When I was younger I based a lot of my identity on my academics. I was always considered one of the smarter people in my classes and I suppose I took a bit of pride in that. However, sometime around 7th or 8th grade I slowly learned the lesson that no matter how much I knew, there were always going to be many other people just as smart or even more so. It was a tough lesson for me to learn at the time, but it humbled me which was very good. It also helped me to understand that you can learn something from everyone.
With all that being said, this had an effect on me in high school and college. Academics didn't motivate me anymore and I was all about trying to "fit in" and find my place in this world. I found myself interacting with many different types of people and groups. I didn't realize it at the time, but I was just trying to cling on to something where I felt accepted. I also didn't realize that my personality often changed based on who I was interacting with. Because of this, I pretty much fell out of contact with just about everyone that I was cool with during this time. I still had a lot of learning to do about myself and those associations just kind of fizzled out.
Once I entered the "real world" and started working, I found myself surrounded by co-workers who were mostly older than me. For some reason, I regressed back into young mode, because I wanted all of them to know how smart I was. Whether it be giving a speech or typing up a report, I needed that validation for some reason.
Fast forward to 2007 and my life hits a ton of bumps in the road. After falling on my ass I had to really put things in perspective. Once I realized that most of my decisions in life were based on how I wanted others to perceive me, it really changed me for the better. For the first time in my life I started doing things because I wanted to do it. Studying subjects that I had a true interest in. When you worry too much about how others perceive you, all it does is stunt your mental and personal growth. Respect others ideas and options, but make sure you're living for yourself.