A Lesson in Friendship

heart“You can’t keep cutting people off at the knees, or you’ll end up with midgets.”

As weird as the above line sounds, it does have some truth to it. This quote came from one of my sisters, who, along with my mom, pointed out to me a rather nasty habit that I have. I have a tendency of cutting people off very quickly. You know how in baseball, the player gets three strikes, then they’re out? Not me. If your behavior seems questionable, you’re out. No warning. No time to rethink. Nothing. A number of reasons for these hasty decisions come to mind.

One reason is that I don’t have patience. Having patience was something I thought I would develop more of overtime. Unfortunately, this hasn’t been the case. When it comes to things that are important to me — like family, friendships, work, hobbies — patience flows easily. When it comes to things that annoy me — like people being negative or taking me for granted — that’s when all bets are off.

Another reason I cut people off quickly is because of experiences I have had with friends in the past. Throughout my school years, I’ve encountered some people who are what you call “true blue.” There’s no phoniness about them. They’re genuinely caring people who I didn’t have to second guess with. Then there were others who I thought were “true blue,” but they actually turned out to be “mean green.”

I do understand that people change, and there will come a point where you’ll outgrow some relationships in your life. At the same time, it sucks when you realize that some of the same people who you supported don’t feel the same way about you. They can be the type of people who want to see you do good, just not better than them. As I got older, I felt as though I kept encountering this kind of mindset, and I eventually got fed up. By the time college came around, I decided that instead of getting hurt by insincere people, I would just shut them down before they got the chance.

This worked for a while until I noticed that my circle of friends had gotten smaller and smaller. I’m not the type who believes in having a large number of friends. (When I was on Facebook, the highest my friends list went to was 30.) My circle got so small that at one point I only considered two people “friends.” By the end of the year, it had shrunk down to one. After my bad habit was pointed out to me, I decided to take a step back and re-evaluate.

I realized that my hesitation in getting close to people attributed to my decision to cut people off. As much as I liked making new friends (and still do), I had allowed myself to only get so close to them. I kept a just-in-case net around me. It was as though I was expecting people to disappoint me so that I would have a reason to cut them off.

While I don’t regret the relationships that naturally ended or that I decided to end because they were truly toxic, I’m now thinking about the ones that didn’t fall into either category — the ones I kept distant because of others. Would we still be in touch? Would our relationship have grown over time? Or would it have ended anyway? Only God knows.

Everything in life has its time and place. People come into your life to be teachers — to help you have a better understanding of yourself and life in general. People and situations help you evolve into who you’re meant to be.

Even though I saved myself from wasting time and energy in negative situations, I’m learning to check over my bridges instead of burning every one of them. I’m still not going to allow myself to be taken advantage of. No one should. But instead of assuming that everyone will try and take advantage, I just need to trust my instincts and have more patience.

No one is perfect. People will say and do things that will get on your nerves. If someone is consistent in their thoughts and ways, take them for who they are and move forward from there.

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