Reaching Out

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.  🙂

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18 comments on “Reaching Out

  1. Beth Ann says:

    I totally can understand where you are coming from. I have always been the giver…the one who is always there for everyone else. It is just who I am and how God made me. But when I have needed help I am afraid to reach out and ask for it. Silly. Ridiculous. When I was in Australia a wise friend who offered me a ride whenever I needed one( as we had one car and lived about 25 K’s out of town) told me when I kept refusing her offers “Wouldn’t you do it for someone if they needed a ride? Well, of course you would! So let me do it for you now!” She was right. I would have gone out of my way for someone else but yet I did not want to impose on her kindness. Lesson learned. I have learned to accept help when I need it and to seek it out. Not easy but sometimes it is what needs to be done. I am glad you have some friends that you can count on. You are right–they are really everywhere if we just look.

  2. D... says:

    I think the way you see people has a lot to do with the way you see yourself. Well, this is my take at least.

    I’ve been a giver and I’ve learned to say no. I’ve had a lot of negative experiences and a lot of good experiences. I think as a young woman I had a lot of problems with female friends. They were nice to me sometimes and cruel the other. In my opinion the cruelty was unwarranted, most acts of cruelty are. Some of the meanness stemmed from boy issues, girls who are in love with the boy who likes you are vicious creatures. Some are just their hateful cow issues. I remember waiting out in the rain for this girl who was supposed to be my best friend, then seeing her walk by with some other girl simply saying she forgot, I was so pissed. It’s from those moments I learned about ugliness. But there were also times when my friends, male more often than naught, who were there to comfort me and protect me. It was like that for most of my teens and college years. I realized I was more of a man’s woman, and less of a girly girl. I also learned I got along with women who weren’t into BS, more straight shooters. I think that’s the engineering personality, because you know engineers have a personality type. Less frou frou, more logical. There is no benefit to treating someone poorly, if you don’t get along with someone you don’t need to be around them. Playing mind games is useless. So logically say yes when you want to do something and no when it does not appeal to you. Tien, if I asked you to do something and you didn’t want to do it, I would want you to say no, it would not hurt my feelings. The only way it would bother me in the least is if you said no to be spiteful. But Sweetie I doubt that’s your personality. A friend wants you to be happy too.

    • Tien says:

      Thanks for sharing Danielle! I tend to feel female friendships are more complicated too. The girls in Sex and the City are really just fiction! Big fan by the way. Anyway, I also realised that sometimes male friends are simpler too. Straight shooters like you say 🙂

  3. Claire says:

    That’s true Tien. Some people are just lucky because they have such giving friends that would do things for them even without being asked…

    But now you know 🙂 so just ask…. we’re all here for you

    • Tien says:

      It took me so long to realise that too, that I can’t just compare people’s friends and expect the same from my own friends. Awwww thanks Claire! *hugsss*

  4. Sometimes I feel the same way – there’s no one there for me but maybe I need to reach out and ask more. Maybe I’m not honest enough about when I need help. Food for thought, thanks Tien!

  5. I do live in Asia and I’m very familiar with people using these while talking on their cell phones.

  6. scrambled7 says:

    I think we all go through this.
    I, like yourself, am a very helpful person. I’m what you call, a friend in need.
    But when I look back, are all those people who I have helper going to be there for me, will I have anyone who’s gonna tell me, “I got your back”?
    I’m glad to say that yeah, I do posses those kind of friends, and I’m glad you do too.
    We all need someone to dig into the toilet for us, ha. Not literally, but you know what I mean, right? 😉
    And about the NO. YES, we do need that word.
    I mean, we’ve all seen yes man, and we know what always saying yes leads to. 😀

  7. Sendie-Lou says:

    Hi Tien, what you said, If you keep giving and giving without question, people will naturally take you for granted My grandpa once said that to me. He even give me an example, he said, give rice to your neighbor everyday of the month for no reason, then stop after 30 days. Watch how they react. At first they will be surprise, grateful and they will expect it to come every day and when you stop, they will become angry to you for stop giving them rice, even though you really have no obligation to do so from very beginning.

    I wrote about this a while ago, (I include you the link). I’m very lucky and fortunate with many great friends I have, but that’s the thing, I never ask for help. I don’t know if it’s ego or self arrogance that I have, but I just don’t ask for help until I crumble. Even then, it took a good friend to yell at me to make me realize that I can’t do it all.

    http://sunflowerslady.wordpress.com/2011/06/08/put-on-a-happy-face/
    http://sunflowerslady.wordpress.com/2011/06/02/fear-not-a-friend-is-here/

  8. […] me who will helps me no matter what, no questions asked. This morning, I read Tien’s blog about reaching out and what she said in the 1st paragraph hits me. This is what she said: In the years ahead, many a […]

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