Reading about Erin’s entry jolted some of my memories and inspired me to write on the topic of being too nice. Somehow I got side-tracked and wrote a post about a teenage drama I endured instead. Anyway, if you have read that story – the pillow incident I call it - you can tell by now that I was very eager to please and very non-confrontational. I have difficulty in saying no and I always wanted to be nice.
In the years ahead, many a time, I felt that I was invited for a day out only because I have a ride. Or the times when I have offered my help without being asked, and when I needed help, I could find no one. Times when I felt I have no friends I could trust, no one to listen, no one to talk to, no one to support me, no one to comfort me. No one I could truly count on. No true friend to lean on. Always taken for granted.
I particularly loved this excerpt Erin wrote in her entry:
I think that being selfish is an important aspect of selflessness – take care of yourself and you’ll be better equipped to help others. Put others first, but only if it doesn’t threaten your own well-being. It’s okay to hurt someone else’s feelings as long as it is necessary and unintentional. It’s okay if you hurt someone else’s feelings, as long as it’s necessary and unintentional. You’re allowed to say “no.” You have permission to stand up for yourself.
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you“, was what I lived by.
But let’s face it, in the real world? Really? Not trying to sound sceptical but we are all human, including our friends. If you keep giving and giving without question, people will naturally take you for granted. They are not bad people, this is just human nature. I am no exception to the rule as well. I know I may have taken friends for granted too. It is okay to say NO, I can’t say it better than Erin did.
But wait, this is not my point.
One day in our student flat quite a few years ago, my housemate’s mobile phone got accidentally dropped into the toilet. If you live in Asia, you should know that some old houses do not have a toilet bowl. We have a squat toilet instead. Naturally, she was very distressed and would’ve prefered if she could retrieve her phone, fast! She had just done her business and it was a long drop down the hole, easily 3 feet!
A few minutes later, I watched as two of her guy friends attempted to retrieve her phone. First using a stick, a hook, then with bare hands! Watching them lying chest down beside the squat (yet to be flushed) toilet, faces a few inches from the toilet floor, hands reaching into the hole, I was touched. I envied her for having friends who will do pretty much anything to help. The beauty of it was, she didn’t even have to ask! I remember her telling them to give up already but they kept trying.
And then a thought struck me. If I had been the one with my phone down the toilet, who would help if asked? No one came to mind. If anyone should be lying face down, bare hands reaching into the toilet to retrieve my phone, it would be no one else but me, myself and I. I had no one.
But I also thought, I couldn’t ask anyone of such a favour, it was too much to ask. I’d rather do it myself.
That was my problem. I don’t ask. I assume that at times of need, friends will be there automatically. Just like in the movies or TV shows.
It was not that I had no friends I could count on, but I was so busy being the “selfless hero” I forget that I am allowed to ask for help and be a little selfish at times too. Sometimes, I need to be the one being rescued. I was expecting others to act like I would. And when they don’t, I get disappointed. Now that, is too much to ask/expect. They are not me.
So, here is my point. Friends are everywhere. All you need to do is reach out to them. Not sit and wait. I am glad to know that when I did reach out, I found a handful of real friends whom I know would be there for me, no matter what. No questions asked.