Yes, I am. I didn't realize this until yesterday. Beforehand I genuinely considered myself pretty selfless and took pride in thinking of ways to make other people's lives better in any way I possibly could. I won't list endless examples. If you know me well, I think you would agree that I am extremely thoughtful of others and very generous with my time, money, love, and encouragement. I genuinely thrive when I make others happy. Then, a couple of nights ago, after thousands of endless hours contemplating failed friendships and ones that are on the verge of fading, I finally learned that I played an equal part in being as self-centered as those very friends that I stopped being friends with for their own selfish tendencies.
I frequently find my feelings bruised when people close to me don't support me in the ways that I hope they would, which is usually compared to the ways I would treat them in similar circumstances. There are many times when I considered my closest friends to be selfish, lacking in thoughtfulness and I even convinced myself that they may not care as much about me as I do about them. As my birthday approaches tomorrow, my biggest wish (besides health for me and my family!) is to stop grappling with the way I perceive others feel about me based on whether they "rise to the occasion" of being thoughtful friends by showing their unwavering support and proving that they are equally thoughtful. I feel stuck in a socially and emotionally primitive and immature teenage capsule. How do I transport back into my current adult life and figure out how to get these thoughts out of my mind?
I have struggled with these feelings for too many years. Ironically, they have been a part of my adult life far more than they were in my younger years. As I have grown older, I have become more thoughtful, caring, generous, and compassionate with each year that passes. I guess it makes sense that my expectations of others have shifted accordingly and explains why the bar of how I expect to be treated in return has been raised to sometimes suffocating standards. A most recent example of disappointment, resulting from unmet expectations, is when I first mentioned the creation of this blog to approximately twenty people to who I feel closest. I invited them to subscribe, but I was again let down by the lack of support that I anticipated. I genuinely thought that these friends would care enough to follow our journey for the next few months. I mean, these are friends who I've known for years and have had so much history with. Yet, only half of them cared enough to subscribe and follow our experiences, deflating me once more. Do they not care about us? Are they not interested in following my family's whereabouts? Why didn't they subscribe? Do they not want to feel caught up while we are apart? Although some made the effort to text back and share encouraging words, plugging their emails into the "subscribe" tab proved to be too demanding of a task. Others did not respond at all to my invitation. Ouch. This is a teeny tiny example of shattered expectations and the disappointments that escalate as a result. Unfortunately, there are much larger and more hurtful ones that have sadly kept me awake too many nights. I won't delve into those. Regardless, this example highlights how they did not fulfill my needs by subscribing. While it is much easier to blame them for not being devoted or supportive friends, it is pretty transparent that the problem really lies around my ego not getting the boost it hoped for. My gosh, all these years I thought I was selfless and altruistic but I have actually been so self-centered! In giving, I expected to receive the same level of care, attention, and generosity. I was really thinking of myself all along! Having these expectations were a direct construct of me, myself, and I. They were set up to only serve me.
Covid's isolation era has mostly kept me away from my friends and social environments for the past five months, giving me ample time to mull over many thoughts and feelings while slowly shedding the destructive ones for good. By having specific expectations of others, I have set them up for failure and put unnecessary weight on relationships that were important to me. I used to convince myself that if I did less, reached out less, invited less, included less, gave less, and even loved less, then I would save myself a future of more debilitating thoughts around this issue because in doing less I would expect less and therefore be disappointed less. How sad would that be though? The last thing I want to do is harden and become bitter or resentful. It would suck if I was no longer the gal who took such good care of others. I strive to change for the better, not the worst. The time has come to eradicate the damaging pattern that comes with expectations. I will no longer accuse others of selfishness because I now realize, that even if they are being selfish if I am thinking of the ways they should be thinking of or treating me, I am being selfish too. Friends are for fun times and good memories. I am so fortunate to have many wonderful memories with wonderful friends. I'll hang on to these aspects. And for those of you who are reading this, thank you for subscribing to my blog :)