September 26th 2004 A Night of Fun and Enlightenment
Friday evening, I had the pleasure of staying overnight at an old friend’s house. Now, I used to be very good friends with this old friend—in fact, at one time, I considered her perhaps my closest friend, albeit tied for that position with another young gentleman. Anyway, in the past year we had drifted a bit, and in the past few months had only occasionally seen each other—so naturally I was quite elated when she invited me out of the blue to her house.
The evening could possibly have gone better, but it was quite an enlightening one indeed. Around 5:00 or so in the morning, I was talking to this friend when she said something very eye-opening to me. I believe her words were, “You know Mike, usually you’re a real bastard, but tonight you’re being really nice.”
I couldn’t believe my ears. Me, a bastard? How could this be? Wasn’t I always a fairly nice guy? Wasn’t I pretty friendly? Whatever could she mean? I questioned her about her statement, and through talking to her, I realized she was quite right—I could be a bit of a bastard sometime. Here’s what she explained:
We had been good friends at one time, but over time, I became “not fun” to hang out with. Why? Because I was always negative. I constantly worried about what people thought of me. I constantly conjectured that very few people really, truly liked me—most people merely tolerated me, and very few actually cared or thought about me when I was around. Of course, being my good friend, I often chose her to vent my manufactured frustrations on, which resulted in her just getting disgusted with me. Every time we got together, it was the same negativity. Eventually she just stopped hanging out with me.
And can I blame her? How do I feel when I am around negative individuals? At first I try to listen to them, to help them, but eventually, I get pretty sick of them. However, I never realized that, in my quest to be not only accepted but loved by everyone around me, I became obsessed. My insecurity and lack of self-confidence led me to complain to everyone close to me, eventually driving them away.
In my quest to become closer to people, my unchecked insecurity actually drove them away.
I certainly realize now the error of my ways. I can’t be best friends with everyone around me, and I can’t make people like me. The best I can do is be myself, and be confident that that will be good enough to attract people. It generally seems to work, at least at first—at the risk of sounding a bit egotistical, I think I make friends fairly easily—but then I always start to worry that I am just not worthy of their friendship. But that’s insane—if I wasn’t worthy, I never would’ve made friends with them in the first place!
It is time for a change. It is time I stopped worrying about what people really thought of me, and just assume that they do like me unless I have reason to believe otherwise. My only fear is that this realization, this change, comes too late to patch things up with my old friend, who I have greatly missed in the past couple months; but at least I have learned a good life lesson from the experience, and can apply my knowledge to other relationships in the future.