I told you in the beginning that I was sure all my titles were going to read as Fall Out Boy songs. I wasn’t lying.
For those of you who don’t know me, I actually have this incredible talent. Now, I don’t mean to brag or anything like that, but it’s actually quite amazing. You see, I have all the answers for everything. Any problem, situation – whatever it is, I know exactly how to fix it. Doesn’t matter who’s life it is that we’re talking about here, I know it all. I can tell you the exact steps you need to take to get to where you want to be in life, and I can get you happiness. As long as you follow exactly what I say, of course. And if you don’t? Well, your loss. It’s too bad you didn’t want to take me up on all my great and infinite knowledge.
What a load of bull. And yet, I actually believe it sometimes. Call it a mix of my massive ego and growing up being told that I was some sort of miracle child. In my own life, finding solutions and problem solving has been the only way I’ve been able to survive through my own struggles, and therefore, I reflect that same ‘always planning and working’ attitude on everyone around me, especially those who I care about the most.
Thanks to this really great friend of mine, I finally learned a really valuable lesson: I’m an ignorant idiot.
Let’s take a step back for a moment and look at how I’ve handled my own problems in the past. Have I listened when people have told me what to do? Did I actually pay attention when my mom gave me possible solutions? Did I even give a damn about what anyone else thought would help me? No. I basically said screw it to anyone else’s ideas as to what was best for me, and went off to figure it out myself. Usually I ended up coming to the same conclusion that they had told me in the very beginning, and it often took an unnecessarily long and painful process to get there, but hey, I’m stubborn. I don’t listen to anyone until I figure it out for myself. Don’t care who they are or how clever they think they are; I gotta do it for myself.
Sweet. That makes sense. I think a lot of people are like that.
And yet, time and time again, I’ve (since I’m the smartest and have all the answers), told my friends how to fix themselves. I told them exactly what they needed to do. Sometimes they did it because they wanted to make me happy and proud of them. Other times they said no and I was disappointed in their decisions, taking it personally. And a lot of the times, we eventually stopped being friends at all.
Why the hell did it take me so long to realize how dumb I was being?
I would freaking hate my friends if they acted like that towards me. It’s a wonder so many people have put up with me thus far.
The point of friendship is not to try to fix your friends and make them happy, but rather, see the potential inside of them and help them through their own story of finding that for themselves. I don’t know their situations. Heck, how much can you ever really know someone else anyway? I have a tough enough time understanding myself most times, much less figuring anyone else out. And yet I have the audacity to think I know what’s best for them? That I can just tell them all the answers and make their lives instantly better?
No, I can’t. I can’t give them happiness. I can’t give them the ability to fix all of their sadness and perfect their lives for them. But what I can do, however, is to love and support them as they start figuring out how they want to write their story, and how they’re going to do it. Not how I’m going to do it for them, or how I would do it, but to stand by them as they start answering those questions for themselves. It doesn’t matter if it’s not done in the way I think it should be done in, or as fast as I think it should be, or whatever else I think, really, as long as I’m here to be with them in the first place.
Being someone who’s goal is to be a life coach or counselor, that’s a pretty big piece I had been missing. And I think from now on, I’m going to be spending a whole lot less time telling people how to ‘fix everything,’ and instead be there for them in the way they need me to be. Not as some judgy instruction manual, but as an actual friend.
After all, we all have to write our own stories and decide the lives we want for ourselves. If I don’t allow the people around me to do that, I’m apart of the problem. I’m ridding them of the ability to discover themselves, and teaching them how to be more like me.
So love, thanks for teaching me this. And I’m sorry to everyone I know, and no longer know, who had to put up with my ego.