Monday, December 26, 2011
A Holiday Lesson: Lose the Expectations
There's something about growing up in a small town that skews your perception of relationships forever. Awhile back, I mentioned here and here that before I moved to Hollywood with Mr. Wonderful, I lived in virtually the same town where I grew up. And that has caused me to stay friends with people I knew in preschool and kindergarten and, really, even back when I was a wee zygote in my mom's belly. For the most part, once you're a friend of mine, you're always a friend.
This small-town way of looking at things can make it hard to handle being dissed. (Remember that gem from junior high?)
When I see the number of Facebook friends on my page fluctuate or I notice I've been pulled from someone's blogroll or I don't receive a Christmas card from a once regular sender, I totally get my feelings hurt.
I immediately assume that I've done something to offend them or they don't like my writing or they hate me and want to feed me nails and chalk dust. Because why wouldn't they want to be friends when I'm so nice all the time? Right...
Mr. Wonderful can't count how many times he's had to tell me to "let it go." In fact, we were just having this conversation recently when I stumbled upon a horoscope of all things that reminded me of my erred, halfsighted way of seeing things. It said:
Sure, you've built up a lot of good karma over the past few months, but you can't stand there tapping your toe, waiting for the big payback to come. If you are doing that right now, you're missing the point of being selfless. Don't do things for others because you think that will earn you something in return. Life is not tit for tat. Do things for other people because it brings you happiness, a sense of importance or a heartfelt warmth. Reach out when there is nothing in it for you.
What I realized is this doesn't just apply to tangible things like holiday cards. It applies to friendships.
Just because I cheer someone on during a tough time or make time in my schedule for them or comment on their blog doesn't mean they are required to repay me. Furthermore, it's selfish of me to expect them to.
When you put thought or energy into a relationship, it's really easy to presume the same amount will be returned to you. An even exchange. But that's not what love and friendship are about.
I had forgotten.
Maybe it's time to shed this flaky piece of skin from my small town days and accept that here in the big city, people are entitled to change their minds. They're allowed to go in different directions and even decide to remove you from their roadmaps. And that doesn't mean that you are a bad person or in some way unworthy. It just means that their relationship requirements have shifted.
Trying to hang on to this notion may become one of my New Year's resolutions. Selfless giving of friendship seems like a good one to add on the 2012 list.